Sales organisations are always looking to attract new customers, but it is equally important to retain existing ones. In fact, on average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times the value of their first purchase, highlighting the benefits of keeping customers happy, and key strategic accounts may be worth significantly more than that.

Nevertheless, many businesses struggle to actually retain customers for the long term. In this article, we take a look at some top tactics to help sales companies to avoid losing customers.

1. Ask Customers Why They Left

One of the most simple tactics for preventing a high churn rate is to actually take the time to ask customers why they left. Of course, once they tell you, it is vital that you actually take action to correct any problems, or adapt your processes, so that other customers do not feel tempted to follow them out the door.

According to the CSO Insights 2017 World-Class Sales Practices Report, companies that rate themselves as effective at surfacing specific reasons why customers stop doing business with them enjoy a customer churn rate that is 41 percent lower than those who do not consider themselves effective in this area.

There are many ways of seeking feedback, from online surveys, to emails asking for specific feedback, to direct telephone contact. Listen to what your former customers have to say and be ready to make any necessary changes. After all, negative feedback is only actually valuable if you use it as constructive criticism and act upon it.

2. Stay Valuable to Existing Customers

Another essential retention tactic is to take steps to remain valuable to your existing customers – especially those you identify as being of strategic importance. Keep in touch, try to understand their specific needs, offer incentives to stay with you and avoid the trap of neglecting existing customers in the chase for new ones.

Come up with an established definition of what constitutes a key customer and ensure all reps dealing with those clients know what it entails. Make time during your customer service coaching sessions to teach reps how to use CRM software to identify key customers and encourage reps to use social media and other platforms to share useful content and information with them, in order to keep them on board.

“Don’t be lulled into assuming your existing customer base is fixed,” says Barry Trailer, writing for the CSO Insights blog. “Do the hard work now of identifying your best customers, and commit to really understand them.”

3. Deliver Excellent Customer Service

Finally, the customer service skills of your staff will go a long way towards determining how successful you are at retaining customers, so customer service coaching and training investment is imperative. Crucially, you need to develop the customer service skills of anyone in direct contact with customers, including salespeople.

In 2014, American Express carried out a survey, which found that 74 percent of customers have spent more with a company because of a history of good customer service experiences with them. Customer service also ranked as the second most important factor when choosing between businesses, outranking convenience and product quality.

Try to introduce an element of personalisation, treat every customer as an individual and aim to reduce waiting times as much as possible. Strong product knowledge and overall competence are critical. By staying in regular contact, you can try to anticipate needs in advance and develop up-selling or cross-selling opportunities.


When it comes to achieving sales success, retaining existing customers is every bit as important as attracting new ones. Businesses struggling in this regard should take the time to find out why customers are leaving and act upon the feedback they receive. In addition, it is important to remain valuable to existing customers, avoid neglecting them in the hunt for new opportunities, and focus on delivering an excellent overall experience.

Miller Heiman Group’s Be Ready Workshops and Events cover a wide range of sales and service topics, including key account management and large account management processes. To find out more, click here.

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