It’s renewal time. What are our steps to get our clients to renew? We get them a great gift. We invite them to an event. We visit them in their suites. We send or deliver an invoice. Yet we still can’t get to that elusive 90%-100% renewal rate. And those clients who choose not to return don’t really convey why. We checked the boxes… gift, event, visit, invoice. What happened?
Fact: People buy emotionally. They justify it logically later. In a relationship-based sale, we engage clients, and emotions become involved. They see themselves enjoying our prime real estate, and they know how they would use it. We did a great job, and they were emotionally engaged during the sales process. Wouldn’t it make sense then that people would also renew emotionally? What have we done since the sale to get the emotions and relationships growing?
Partner With. Don’t Sell To.
Once when I was renewing suite leases, we were told to utilize a three-step process: show a video, tell them what is new, and go over the contract, and then ask them to sign, never veering from the process. It was supposed to be foolproof. Who wouldn’t want to renew their suite? That process was fine and great in theory, until practiced. There was no conversation expected. No sharing of experiences. No discussion of key moments.
Imagine my supervisor’s surprise when I went off script, asking clients questions about their experiences and our gifts to them we had sent two months earlier. He definitely got apoplectic when I asked where we stacked up with other teams that they held similar properties with. He was even more in shock when clients replied that we were adequate. Adequate?
We tend to view our touchpoints as quick connections, generally an email or follow-up phone call. They are so much more than that. They are meant to literally touch the hearts of those we are connecting with.
When we sell oftentimes, we don’t partner with, but rather we sell to. Reps will sell what they want to sell versus what clients may want. Consequently, there is no loyalty or connection to the emotions. The same happens in the renewal process. We aren’t partnering with in the renewal process, but rather selling what we want… a renewal. Follow the steps and ask for the renewal.
I asked a particular client what our counterparts in the city offered that would make him say their experience was stellar. He replied that one of the other teams included family, and being a businessman more often than not, he didn’t spend as much time with his family as he wished he could. The other team offered experiences that were family experiences, a night together that was unique. That team partnered with instead of sold/renewed to. Subsequently, their renewal rates were higher and experiences smoother.
The Three Reasons Why Clients Renew
People renew for three main reasons, all emotion-based: appreciation, connection, and memorable experience. When does this process start? Just before renewal time? A couple of months before? It actually starts with the very first connection made with the client and continues through the onboarding process.
The onboarding process continues through the life of the client. We are continually onboarding through touchpoints. Touchpoints are what keep us connected to clients. These touchpoints are not marketing messages or mass messages. Rather, they are personal touchpoints between sales rep and client. How can we utilize touchpoints in the three areas of renewal?
We send clients a thank you note upon purchasing and then perhaps a gift at the holidays or just before renewal. But appreciation is much more than that. It’s showing gratitude with each and every connection. It’s saying “I appreciate you” and meaning it. It’s giving thanks to them at Thanksgiving, letting them know they are a vital part of our team. It’s not just a gift.
Strong retention comes from at least monthly touchpoints in which we reach out to our clients letting them know we care. It can be a call about how their kids did in a game, a card for a birthday or anniversary, tickets for the family to an upcoming family movie release, hats sent to their kids, a gift card for dinner for an anniversary… the list goes on and on.
And somewhere in all of this, we need say the three most powerful words to our client: I appreciate you. Touchpoints are not a job added to our list of things to do. They are the “I appreciate you” moments that keep our clients coming back. We send out mass emails which we consider touchpoints, when in reality, they are mass emails. Period. They are not a personal connection between a rep and client. Knowing the difference is key in the renewal process.
What makes us think that the world’s preferred method of communication is email? How personal is that connection? In order to create a strong bond, personal communication, whether in person, on the phone, or video, is essential.
Ask yourself, do you talk with clients about something other than their seats at least once a month? Do you send a personal video making them smile? Do you care enough about them to know what they like, don’t like, how many kids they have, what their hobbies are? Do you connect on a superficial level or a more personal level? Do you ever have lunch or coffee in the morning with them?
Personal connections help build the bond between clients and their reps. It creates loyalty, retention, and also the referrals.
I was reading the other day about a gentleman who is not renewing his theatre tickets, as the experience is no longer enjoyable. As he commented, “I used to be appreciated, and the experience was top-notch. We had members-only private events for ourselves and our families. They found ways to engage our kids on off days to help them appreciate theatre. Little by little, the enjoyable experience became less. No longer did they engage our kids. No longer did we have members-only events. We went to a show. Period.”
How do we help our members have memorable experiences? Do we understand our clients have more in their lives than just us? How can we create unique experiences for them? What would happen if we hosted an event with the drinks named after the suite holders for the night based on their favorite beverages? A family event night that included a carnival atmosphere complete with cotton candy and games? Finding a nonprofit cause that is special to them and donating something to the organization in the client’s name? Do we know enough about them to create those memorable experiences?
Touch the Heart
We tend to view our touchpoints as quick connections, generally an email or follow-up phone call. They are so much more than that. They are meant to literally touch the hearts of those we are connecting with. When we use them in this way, we are creating the emotional bond that builds relationships and leads to renewals.
Why do people renew? They renew because we care, and they renew because we show it. They renew because we appreciate them. They renew because we connect with them. They renew because we create experiences that are meaningful to them. It’s all about them, and when we connect in that way, we will find our retention rates will increase dramatically.