Back in May, I was consulting with an agency owner/friend.
She originally contacted me because of a retention problem in her business.
“I’m FRUSTRATED Jeremy.. my client retention has been awful lately. People are leaving at random, they aren’t staying with us. It’s like we spend all this time/money to dig up a well, but they quit RIGHT BEFORE they actually hit the water. I’m chasing my own tail trying to figure out what’s wrong… I’m constantly going back to the drawing board, and I can’t gather from the data exactly why this keeps happening.”
After digging in some more, we discovered just how detrimental this problem was. It was causing her not only severe stress, but also lost relationships with bigger clients. Plus the client LTV along with them.
“If only I could get them results faster, they would stay. I have a great product, I know I do because I’m getting great results for others. But I’m not getting those that are leaving the results quick enough to stay..”
As we kept working through all the problems, it dawned on me that this wasn’t a client retention issue AT ALL.
This conundrum was actually a SALES problem.
Here is the exact problem she was having:
People were leaving because they were expecting something different than what was actually happening.
The sales cycle is longer in this industry, and the campaign getting dialed in takes more time. However, the clients frequently aren’t bought in to this frame, and proper expectations were not being established well enough on the sales call.
Here’s the thing that people often miss:
The “sale” doesn’t end when the client pays you at the end of the month or on the sales call. The sale ends when you get them the results you know you can give them with your expertise.
In Linda’s case, she knows the results she can deliver. However, because of the lack of proper expectations being laid out, and having a team member continue to sell to the client until the right results are achieved, this is causing confusion in the customer journey.
Of course when they are confused and not seeing results quick enough, it’s natural that they wouldn’t want to continue due to a lack of trust.
When you have a decent product, and decent fulfillment, people should not be leaving left and right randomly. This is a CLEAR sign that you have a sales problem.
A common one that was costing Linda 500% in both back and front-end revenue.
It’s imperative this problem GETS SOLVED.
So HOW do you solve the problem?
Typically there are three things you have to do to solve this problem.
- Knowing your avatar really well. Sometimes a small shift in who your avatar is and who your product is for, will help you understand what it’s supposed to look/feel like when you’re working with them. A clear-eyed look here will help you spot potential ‘PITA’ clients, and you can disqualify them before they make you miserable. (If you need help refining this, let me know in the comments below.)
- Go HARD on setting realistic expectations on the sales call as to what you could do for them/what they are expecting. It’s not usually as simple as, “Hey it’s going to take approximately 2 months to get your campaign dialed in before you start seeing results. It’s different for every client we work with, but marketing does take time. You cool with that?” but 3-4 statements like this will go a LONG WAY.
- As you work with your clients, remember to keep USING that frame you built during the sales call. Helping them rebuild certainty frequently can be VITAL. Their certainty will be the driving influence to keep your client engaged until they start seeing results. (When you get them great results, it may be time for an upsell. After all, it feels great to level up WITH the people that you’re serving.)
Remember: If they have an upcoming payment, you have an upcoming sale to make. You aren’t done selling until you’ve worked with them all you plan to work with them, for the rest of your life.
If this is something that resonates with you, or is a problem you’re facing, drop a comment below to let me know if it was helpful.
As Linda mentioned, it’s really frustrating having an ‘undercover problem’ that seems to have no solution. Often times it takes an extra pair of eyes from the OUTSIDE to spot a problem INSIDE your business.
If you need an extra pair of eyes on an ‘unsolvable’ or confusing client retention issue, drop a comment here and message me. I often take time out of my schedule to spot these problems, and I love being able to point people in the right direction.
Hey! I'm Jeremy Pope. I'm a sales coach, mindset expert, and sales team consultant. I help business owners fix their 'accidentally high pressure', often-broken, and unfortunately-adversarial sales calls. The result is a close rate above 14.5%. Click here to get my guide "3 quick steps to dramatically improve your next sales call".