We are all guilty of it. We sign an annual contract, turn in the order and count the commission in our pockets.
As soon as the first ad hits the open market, the competitors will target a fresh prospect which is your new client. If a sales rep does not service that new client, competitors could potentially steal them away. To head off the competition, make sure to provide plenty of service after the sale.
Case in point: I recently met with a former client of a media company for a property where Luce Performance Group consults. I sat down with the client to learn why she had canceled her advertising campaign with the property. The answer: A lack of customer service in two critical areas.
1. Contact: The advertiser received one return call for every 10 she placed. The rep serviced the account via email, and that was not acceptable. One of the property's unique selling advantages is personal service and developing relationships with clients. It is difficult to land a new client, and it is even harder to replace lost business.
2. Creative: It was never delivered on time. Where was the follow-through from the rep? This property has award-winning creative departments. If the rep does not deliver on time, it gives the competition time to sneak in.
After enduring these and other frustrations, the advertiser sent the following letter:
Please accept this letter as my written notice of intent to terminate my contract with your company, effective immediately. The following explains my reasons why.
First and foremost, I contacted you prior to the official run of our ad to ask for a change in the ad to include our phone number in hopes that it would be easier to remember than our web address. You stated you would take care of it. I have been waiting patiently to hear back from you, perhaps even reviewed a new copy of the ad, to no avail. If, in fact, you planned to change the ad as discussed why were you unaware that the initial ad was already up and running, and more importantly, why havent you followed up on the email you claimed to have sent? When selling to a customer, one of the most important priorities is to deliver to the customer what they want. You started out strong, but the minute we signed the contract (that we would have liked to sign for only 3 months), you disappeared. No response to our ad, no response to the product we created for the trade, no follow-up as to when the ads would run, no update on the change. Because no changes were made, I paid you to provide a service. We should not have to track you down. This is very unfortunate because weve grown fond of your company. However, you failed to deliver what I paid for, so we will take our business elsewhere.
To avoid receiving a letter like that one, follow these steps:
1. For all the A and B clients who are the bread-and-butter customers that represent 70-80 percent of the billing, make weekly in-person visits depending on the market. Make them with a purpose. No milk runs. A rep will secure the relationship through face-to-face contact. Make these clients understand that as part of their investment in YOUR company, that will they see YOU and work with YOU. Make this commitment and you will earn their trust and respect.
2. For all of the C clients which are those active in the past 90 days but not yet up to A or B annual investment levels, a rep should have face-to-face contact at least bi-weekly. If they have A and B potential, see them every week with new ideas and new energy!
3. For D accounts which are those with developing potential to be advertising in the next 60 days, make a list of these Top 10 D accounts. Really work them. Return to any other D accounts after working those Top 10. D accounts command the same in-person action as C accounts. If they are truly developing accounts, see them once a week!
The letter-writing advertiser is considering running ads with another media outlet. There are two sides to every story. However, the lesson to take away is that we can always do a better job of servicing our clients. It is not easy. Pleasing customers can be like pulling teeth. Clients will say, You dont have to see me all the time, but deep down they want the rep in there making them feel special and important. Dont be misled. Make the customer understand that once they are up and advertising with you that the customer service begins with YOU!
Sean Luce is the Head International Instructor for the Luce Performance Group and can be reached at Sean@luceperformancegroup.com.
As seen in Radio Ink Headlines