by Denise Trifiletti
In my last column, I explained how partnerships in business can be the key to increasing sales, margins and profits. This article takes the next step by discussing how to increase client satisfaction and retention, obtain business referrals, and increase your client revenues through the power of partnerships.
First, you know it is a tough world out there, and you face a lot of competition. Your competition is knocking on your clients' doors and seeking the same returns that you are looking for. In view of this fact, it only makes sense for you to forge as many strategic business partnerships as you possibly can. This is already a strategy of virtually every one of the Fortune 500 companies—why not a strategy for you?
A "Power Partnership" in business is one in which you and your partner leverage each other's talents for the benefit of both. It is a partnership in which you leverage what you each bring to the marketplace in order to add value for your respective clients. Let's explore this from the perspectives of client satisfaction, referral business, and client retention.
- Client satisfaction: An axiom of business is that a satisfied client is "gold in the attic." Another axiom is that every client has the potential to become dissatisfied with your products and services. Never assume client satisfaction. Remaining client-centric and keeping in close contact with your clients is key. Continuously ask and learn about their changing needs—then meet them, either through your own products and services, or through those of your Power Partners.
- Client referrals: How often do you ask your clients for referrals? Do you have a scheduled process and system for doing so? What if you combine your feedback and referral process? If your clients are highly satisfied with what you do for them, that's surely the time to ask for a referral. How about asking for a referral when you first establish your business relationship, during the "honeymoon period"?
- Client retention and revenues: How much is your average client worth revenue-wise on an annual basis? What is your average retention (i.e., how long does an average client do business with you)? What if you could double the lifetime of your client relationships? That additional retention could increase your revenues by 10, 20, or even 50%. If your network of Power Partners helps you by providing solutions for your clients, you are differentiated as a "value-added" solution provider in the marketplace.