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Pipeline! Keeping Your Clients ...

The Fifth Stage of the Pipeline is the "Keeping" or "Maintaining" Them Stage. This stage is where you'll have many an opportunity to assure that your clients don't go away once you got them on board. The systems you put in place at this stage can bring much more your way and at less cost if you play your cards right.

Let's step back a moment. Depending on who you're hearing this from there's a rule of thumb that goes something like, "It takes one tenth the resources to resell than it does to first sell." Another saying hits the same cords, "It takes one tenth the energy to sell a referral than it does an unknown." Either one you look at tells you the same thing, you want to take advantage of whatever is going to save your resources and maximize your return of what you put into the game.

As you evaluate your own pipeline activities, you may see some opportunities at the back end that you've not taken action on yet. Two points to focus on are mentioned in the thumb rules above.

1) All things being equal, people who've been sold previously are more likely to be repeat customers if you give them opportunity to. Hence, part of the pipeline activity you want to be engaged in is interacting with your clients to evaluate where they are concerning what you can offer them. This means to have a customer "Inspection" process at the back end that periodically and systematically engages the customer in a) letting them know that you're still alive and kicking and b) having them tell you what their needs are. In a nutshell, you're looking for new opportunity to sell and to the right people, who most likely are the very people you sold to before.

2) All things being unequal, the person you approach that has warm connections to the person who referred you is more likely to buy from you than someone who doesn't have those type of connections. The emotional bank account that's in the black tends to be more giving and open than one that's in the red. You want to form as many of these connections as possible. That's what makes this stage so powerful. Clients "delighted to the point of being raving fans" are more likely to refer. This is where you want to have scripting to make it easier for them to do so. The little work you do on this will pay off big for you AND them. People really do want to make quality connections for others, and if you work this stage right, you give them additional delight.

Each of these focuses require similar efforts. You get to put systems in place for customer contacts on a periodic basis. You get to create scripts that evaluate customer satisfaction and later on, needs analysis when you know that the time will be right for the customer to take advantage of your service again. You get to create scripts that give your clients opportunity to give your name out to the others they know and give you names of the people they know.

Hint: The magic word here is "systems." Without them your process controls you. With them, you control it. For those of you not clear on the definition of control, I offer this one that is straight from management and engineering theory: Control is monitoring performance and making adjustments to assure desired results. With systems in place that allow for "control," such as the ones mentioned above, you are more likely to hit your target. As the old commercial said, "Try it, you'll like it!"

Creating an Effective/Efficient Fifth Stage: Ask yourself how well your process causes repeat customers. How well, too, are you meeting new contacts thru your established ones? Do you have a high fallout rate and continually need to replace your customer base? Are you giving your customers an opportunity to let you know when they need your services or products again? What does your process look like for keeping or maintaining your customers? How well does it consistently bring new opportunity to you and your customers on all accounts?

On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate yourself at the effectiveness in this area? What should be added to make it a perfect Ten if it's not? A good Stage Five assures both parties are getting additional interactions which bring benefits to each and those they know.

This has been another in a series of articles on the simple business pipeline. Hope you've enjoyed them so far. Some additional points to ponder on your pipeline: Keeping a score of what's going thru the pipeline for your specific industry is as important as establishing the pipeline. Knowing the numbers that have to be generated at each stage empowers you to adjust your activities to prevent logjams and dry-ups. A smooth flow is what makes a pipeline a delight to have. Know your numbers! It makes a big difference to all involved. More on this next time.

I hope you've enjoyed this review so far. Please take a moment to reflect on how these articles have assisted your process. What specifically could we focus on in future articles that would make a big difference for your process? Let us know. See you next week!

[Interested in receiving a graphic of the pipeline? Send a request to the following E-mail address Pipeline Request.

Have a BODACIOUS week!

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Coach John S. Nagy is CEO and Lead Business Coach for Coaching for Success. Inc., a Business Coaching Service specifically designed for top level decision makers dedicated to peak performance in all facets of their activities. He's hired to focus them continuously in activities that bring higher returns on their resource use. His programs are for the seriously committed. This means having his clients work "ON" their businesses, not just "IN" it. He's a published author and a multi-degree professional with a nationwide client base. Coach Nagy can be reached through his E-mail address at his website at http://www.coach.net and by calling 813-949-0718.

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Copyright 1999 John S. Nagy


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