Customer Retention: It’s Not Too Late to Catch That Pass

January 29, 2011 - 3 minutes read

Super Bowl 2011I was rooting for our hometown Chicago Bears team in the NFC championship game last Sunday night. Guess that didn’t work out so well. We learned the value of backups AKA deep bench, but it wasn’t enough to save the game.

I watched the game while working on a customer retention project, so I couldn’t help but see parallels between retaining a transactional customer and the wide receiver catching the ball on the deep passes. After a customer places an order, the customer is like the ball out of the QB’s hands as it soars above the field to its intended destination.

But as the saying goes:

“When you throw a ball, three things can happen and two of them are bad.”

Here is where the customer correlation comes in. Just like the ball must come back to earth, the customer must buy again. On the bad side:

  1. Your competition intercepts (gets the order at the right time) or
  2. You did not anticipate and get to the position at the right time, or you simply fumbled (did not make proactive calls or relevant upsell/cross-sell offers).

Why might these happen? Other priorities can get in the way or there is poor communication between teams, systems or processes. The result is the ball gets dropped, literally and figuratively.

On the field, the best combination of planning, tools and execution leads to anticipation to be in the right place at the right moment to catch the ball, assuring the next first and ten. In sales, anticipation is about predicting the customer buying cycle and having call scripts, plays or promotions geared to that point in time. Use analytics and CRM systems to set up these actions so that you are running in the right direction.

At Valgen, we don’t ask the question “when is the customer going to leave?” Instead we try to predict, “when is the customer going to buy?” The customer’s buying cycle dictates the size and scope of their needs. If we predict that a follow-on order is expected – sort of like a short pass – don’t wait for setting up promotions. Just act. On the other hand, if a larger order with a long lead time is expected – a Hail Mary pass perhaps? – use the “in-buying cycle” time to set up a more coordinated play bringing more resources to bear.

My best wishes to the Packers and Steelers at the Super Bowl. But you know, I’ll be cheering for the Packers anyway … we’re closer neighbors after all.