Give Thanks to Your Customers


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Created on November 26, 2014

For retailers, this time of year is a hum of activity preparing for holiday sales. While B2B companies may find the holidays a slowdown, rather than a time of intense activity, smart B2B entrepreneurs will seize the season as an opportunity to build relationships with customers. What better way to do that (and what better time of year to do it) than by rewarding your loyal clients for their business?

A study by Loyalty360 reported in MarketingProfs, more than 44 percent of B2B marketers say at least 60 percent of their new sales come from current customers.

Rewarding B2B customers is a bit different than rewarding B2C customers. You can’t exactly offer a company a “Buy 10 software system installs, get one free!” punch card. Discounts don’t work as well for B2B customers. Instead, try the opposite tack: Rather than providing products or services for less, reward your regular customers with something extra. Here’s how.

  • Mine your data. Start by reviewing how, when and why your B2B customers purchase. Use a CRM (customer relationship management) system to capture this information if you haven’t already. This way, you’ll know when customers are likely to be in the market for more or new services, what types of purchases they’re likely to make and what tactics worked in the past to seal the deal.

  • Ask for feedback. Regular email or phone surveys asking existing customers for their honest feedback show them that you value their opinions and business. Don’t just call unexpectedly or send a mass email; start by contacting the customer to tell them you value their input and would like to send them a survey or call them to conduct a survey (set an appointment for the latter). Be sure to record the feedback in your CRM system.

  • Offer useful information. Stay on top of your industry’s news and challenges, as well as your key customers’ specific issues. This will enable you to craft content that helps them meet those challenges. For instance, if you own a staffing service and your customers want to do more with a smaller payroll, you could create an ebook or webinar about the benefits of outsourcing to temporary workers and offer it to key customers free as a thank-you.

  • Provide extra service. Rewarding major customers with extra levels of service is a good way to keep them coming back. For example, assigning them to a dedicated account representative, guaranteeing next-day delivery or giving them your personal cell phone number so they can always reach you will make clients feel special. Pump their egos by saying something like “As a Gold Level customer, we would like to thank you by ________.” (Just make sure you live up to your promises—when you tell someone they’re “gold level,” they’re going to hold you to it!)

  • Create exclusivity. Offering existing customers early access to new products and services, asking them to join a “VIP” board that gets polled quarterly about their concerns to help you develop new offerings, or hosting “Best Customer” events are all ways to make regular customers feel like part of a special group. Why would they go elsewhere when they’re getting such VIP treatment from you?

  • Provide an annual review. Contact customers and tell them they are so valuable that as a reward, you’d like to meet with them for a free review of the past year and to discuss how you can help them grow their businesses in the coming year. Get it on the schedule now, even if customers can’t meet until January. Prepare carefully by familiarizing yourself with the customer’s challenges and thinking through various new services, products or bundles you could offer them. Be sure to ask how you can provide better service or what you should change.

  • Go the traditional route. Of course, it’s always nice to send a holiday thank-you. Sending your holiday gifts at Thanksgiving time (instead of waiting for the holiday rush, when they’ll get lost in the crowd) along with a Thanksgiving card is unexpected and will put your business top-of-mind. That’s important, because November is when some business clients are spending year-end budgets or gearing up to plan for next year’s expenditures.

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