A firewall is a barrier between walls to prevent the spread of fire throughout a building, should one occur. As it pertains to technology, it means roughly the same thing; it controls something from getting into a network of computers.
The idea of a firewall is a useful metaphor for client retention. It’s a good idea to think through what it takes to prevent your competitors from penetrating your key accounts.
Here is what your firewall might consist of:
- Execution: There are few greater threats to your retention than failing to execute for your clients. If you aren’t delivering the results that they need, you are essentially opening the door for your competitors, rolling out the red carpet, and ensuring they entertain the idea of changing partners. Execution is the foundation of the barrier that prevents competitive threats.
- New Value: Execution alone isn’t enough to ensure you retain your clients. Your clients are going to face new challenges and new threats to their business. They are also going be presented with new opportunities. Either you constantly work to present new value-creating ideas that help them face their challenges and take advantages of opportunities, or someone else will. You need to go from quarter to quarter, looking for ways to create new value. Your next big idea is a barrier.
- Relationships: If you’ve read this blog for any period, you know that I believe in the power of relationships. All things being equal, relationships win. All things being unequal, relationships still probably win. But today, if you can’t execute and continuously bring new value, then your relationships aren’t going to be enough to save you. Relationships are literally like a wall of fire (think of those movies where people build a wall of fire to keep out the wolves or predators. When your relationships are wide and deep, your competitors will feel like they are trying to walk through a wall of fire. The “relationships” barrier can keep a small competitive threat from quickly spreading throughout your key account.
This is how you build a firewall around your clients: you execute, bring new value and develop deep relationships.