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Is Your Customer Base at Risk?

Protecting Your Existing Business in Tough Times

By Ed Emde

In a challenging economic climate, you may be finding that prospective customers are strongly focused on downsizing and cost cutting rather than on expanding their business or acquiring the latest new product features. Companies that may have been in growth mode last year are putting projects on hold, reducing capital budgets, and paying renewed attention to cash management.

In the face of retrenchment, it is increasingly costly and time consuming to develop new business. Now, more than ever, it makes sense to keep your existing customers close and invest in expanding business with companies that are already buying from you. But how long has it been since you took a serious look at the loyalty of your current customers—to your sales reps, your solutions, and your company? Have you earned that loyalty by consistently focusing on how to deliver value with each meeting? Have you checked in on how they feel you have serviced their needs? Or have you been taking their business for granted? If you aren’t sure of the answers to these questions, your current business may be more at risk than you think. In challenging economic times, your key customers may be far more vulnerable to lower-priced offers and discounting than they were when times were good.

Regardless of how long you have done business together, it is critical to understand and protect your relationship with your best customers—the ones you count on to meet your goals for a stable stream of revenue and a healthy balance sheet for your company.

What can you do to protect your base from cost cutters and continue to expand your business, even in these hard times?

The first step is to reassess your relationship with each of your major accounts and determine how likely they are to consider changing suppliers in the near future. The second critical step is to develop strategies to shore up your defenses and reduce the risk of losing customers to predatory competitors.

You can protect against erosion of your existing relationships, and even expand your share of business.

Ed Emde

“Ed Emde, President of Wilson Learning Corporation, is responsible for business strategy and operations in the Americas. He has over 25 years of experience working directly with senior level executives in linking human resources and organizational development, training, and education initiatives to strategic imperatives and business outcomes.

He has held executive and leadership positions with several leading training and organizational development companies. Ed is published in numerous print and online business publications, including CLO magazine and Training magazine.”