You put a lot of time and effort into turning your dream clients into clients. Once you acquire them as clients, you have to manage and deliver the outcomes that you sold and promised. You must also understand and become an active participant in their buying cycle—or someone else will!
Where the Cycle Starts
Your dream client became your client after they became dissatisfied and after you built the relationships, created value before claiming it, and developed the necessary trust to deserve and opportunity.
The buying process always starts with dissatisfaction. Once a buyer becomes dissatisfied, they start to work to understand their needs, identify possible options that will deliver an improvement, and then to resolve any concerns. If your dream client is now your client, it’s a pretty safe bet that you helped them through this process.
You may have delivered your solution, and you may have already made a significant, measurable improvement for your client. But know this for certain: your solution did nothing to change the deep fundamental that began this process.
The Deepest Fundamental
The deepest of all fundamental trends is change. More still, the pace of change is accelerating at a breath-taking and astonishing speed. Exponential change and exponential shifts in the business environment and economy mean that the buying cycles are shorter.
The time between a new solution and an external change that causes dissatisfaction is growing shorter. Retaining your client means understanding these shortening cycles—and then getting deeply engaged in your client’s buying process. Again!
It’s You—Or It Is Your Competitor
When the buying cycle starts again—and it will start again—it begins, as always, with dissatisfaction. Something has changed. Your solution no longer produces the needed result. Or some other part of your client’s business comes unraveled and needs to be put back together because something changed.
You have a choice: you can either work with your client through their buying process, or you can wait for your competitor to find their way in.
The pattern is one you should know. Your client is dissatisfied. Either you help them identify and understand what they need, or they will find someone who will.
Your client needs ideas. They need solutions. They need options. Either you get engaged in working with them to identify all of the potential changes that might be made, the new products, the new services, the new solutions that may be necessary, or they look outside.
Someone is going to help your client build a vision of the right way to move forward and deal with the change that has been thrust upon them. Someone is going to help them sell the case internally, and someone is going to resolve their concerns about undergoing a change effort. It’s up to you whether they resolve the concerns about switching partners or whether they resolve concerns about your proposed changes.
Retaining your clients means understanding the buying cycle begins with dissatisfaction and that the deepest fundamental, change, means that dissatisfaction will be making its rounds again soon (sooner than you imagined!). The only way to retain your client is to become an active participant in their buying cycle and ensuring that they don’t need to look elsewhere for help identifying and understanding their needs, coming up with options, or resolving their concerns.
Think about the clients that you retain. Do you have a process that ensures that once dissatisfaction rears its ugly head you are already working on identifying and understanding needs as your client’s partner and outcome manager?
Is your solution immune to the deepest fundamental: change? Is your client immune to the deepest fundamental?
How do you work with your clients through the buying process when it doesn’t include shopping for another partner to replace you?
How much faster are these cycles between solution and dissatisfaction occurring in your business and your client’s businesses?