Customer Retention... It takes much more than a corporate gift!

I read an anonymous blog post this week about corporate gifts being "the key to customer retention." The post went on to say that business gifts (logo'd apparel, pens, mugs, and calendars) increase brand recall and loyalty, increase order size and frequency, and ultimately are responsible for revenue growth. That sounds so easy and maybe it is that simple in some industries, but for most of us, particularly in B2B, customer retention takes much more than a pen with a company logo!

Jill Konrath, author of Selling to Big Companies, spelled it out well in a special report from RainToday.com, entitled "The One Piece of Advice You Need to Earn Your Clients' Loyalty."  She says you must differentiate yourself. You must become invaluable to your clients. Easier said than done, I'm sure.

Jill highlights the following five things you need to do to make yourself invaluable to your customers.
1. Deepen your knowledge and skills
2. Look for opportunities
3. Share your ideas
4. Speak up
5. Suggest alternate resources

listeningThese are excellent points, but they cannot be done without listening to your customers first! Learn first-hand about industry trends and challenges. Hear what your customers are struggling with and what they need to succeed. Understanding your customer's world is imperative to helping them achieve their goals and objectives. Only then, will you be capable of identifying solutions. Only then, will you be capable of developing new products and services to better meet their needs. And only then, will you be capable of challenging their thinking and becoming truly invaluable.

Corporate gifts are indeed a nice way of saying "thank you for your business," and they're great for re-enforcing your brand. But to enhance your customer retention strategies and grow revenues, you need more than a gift or two. You need something much more substantial. You need to bring real value to the relationship. You need to differentiate yourself and become invaluable to your customers. And it all starts with listening to your customers first!

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