With spring approaching, I’m mentally preparing myself for another 7 weeks of grueling travel for speaking events, networking opportunities, and meetings with prospects and partners. I’m always excited at the outset, but I know by the time the 7th week hits, I’m going to be burnt out.
The good news about travel is it can also be a lot of fun, and most of the time, it’s profitable (but sometimes not). There are times when I can’t remember which city I’m in, but in my 17 years of being self-employed, I have yet to find anything that beats face-to-face meetings. There’s no better way to build long-term relationships and loyal clients than breaking bread and having a few drinks with them, which is exactly why I continue to do it.
But getting new customers is hard! Sure, there is that one guy in 10,000 who claims it is easy. Sure, you can find someone who can make a handful of sales on Facebook for $1.25 each. But even for these exceptions, it’s difficult — if not impossible — for them to scale past a few thousand dollars in revenue. Why? Because getting customers is hard.
The Siren’s Song Of Easy Customers
It is easy to be mesmerized by the beautiful sound of cheap and easy new customers, but in 99% of cases, it is absolute BS. In your business career, what has lasted that has been super easy?
When someone tells you, “Give me $1, and I’ll give you $5 back,” you know, deep down, they are not being truthful. They aren’t going to take your dollar and do all the work so you can sit on the beach. That would be nice, but that’s not reality.
Cancellations: The Bane Of Growth
When a customer cancels, it’s exhausting and difficult to find new customers. Cancellations are the bane of business growth. In the last few years, I’ve gotten to know the CEOs of a couple companies that make $100 million or more per year. Do you know what they focus on? Their churn (cancellation) number. But why?
Love The One You’re With
It’s what I’ve been saying all along — getting new customers is hard. These big CEO’s understand that all their efforts to bring in new business mean nothing if they have high churn. They lose sleep over it, fight to keep their customers, make plans, and spend millions from the budget to make sure no one leaves.
Many times, when small business owners hear about things big businesses are doing, we ignore it. We tell ourselves it works for them because they’re so big. But business fundamentals are the same for small companies. No matter the size of your company, if you’re losing customers, you’re loosing growth.
The solution to churn isn’t doubling your efforts to get new customers. Pouring more water into a leaky bucket doesn’t fix the leak. You need to focus on retention. Show your current clients the same love and attention as your prospects. When I travel, I’m not just wining and dining new customers. I’m reconnecting with old friends, partners, and clients. I built great relationships with these people over the years. Why would I let that fall by the wayside?
Know Your Numbers
Do you know your churn number year-to-date? What about last month? You will never achieve real, sustainable growth until you understand this number and budget to decrease customer churn. Eventually, you’ll come to a point where you will lose nearly as many customers as you add each month, and you will stop growing.
At the end of the day, you have to accept that getting new customers is hard. But if you can figure out ways to keep them and get them to come back over and over again, you will see much greater success than if you only focused on acquiring new customers.