In the B2B world, customers are more than just the initial sale. The relationship will be long-term and also rely on ongoing customer engagement and support. Strong ties with your existing customers will strengthen your sales pipeline by providing upsell and referral opportunities.
The acquisition life cycle takes a view of the customer relationship as a whole, from sales through retention. It is a mistake for companies to focus only on generating leads and closing deals. Instead, you should evaluate and understand your customers’ experience throughout the relationship.
Some of the objections that are common during the sales process apply to the entire customer life cycle. By identifying and addressing these challenges, you can better adapt and bolster your success both with leads and customer retention.
The Acquisition Life Cycle: From Sales to Support
Your company should focus on the cohesion between marketing/sales and support when looking at the customer acquisition life cycle. A disconnect between the two can hurt your overall retention. By providing a feedback loop for the teams, you can better understand the customer’s perspective.
Throughout the acquisition life cycle, focus on the customer’s needs and pain points, and address them. By keeping profiles on the customers throughout the life cycle, you can understand and revisit these concerns. This will lead to improved customer happiness.
The acquisition life cycle can be broken down into several key areas.
Customers need to be aware of your company and what you offer. As you look at how to create brand identity, focus not only on sales but also on your ongoing support. Both leads and customers should have an understanding of how you are positioned in the industry.
You should have efforts to educate your leads and customers about your expertise. Your customers should be able to look to your company for guidance and as an authority on solutions.
Listen to both leads and customers and ensure you understand their pain points. You can then better show them how you are the right solution to their problems.
Of course, the goal of sales is to get the prospect to buy, but conversion applies to existing customers. The continuing relationship with your customers can involve upselling opportunities. This strengthens the connection and turns your customers into advocates.
Ongoing support for your customers will do two things. First, it will improve your overall customer retention, which will protect your revenue from that customer. Second, you will be able to rely on strong referrals during your sales process.
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Are their needs continuing to be met by your product? Do they have a positive experience dealing with your customer service team?
Challenges Faced During the Acquisition Life Cycle
You will always face push-back, whether from your leads during the sales process or from your customers. Your teams should be armed with ways to overcome these challenges. When you overcome objections, you will better position your company as the right partner for your lead/customer.
1. Not the Right Time
A common response is, “I don’t have time for this right now.” Both sales and customer service are faced with this response as the teams try to engage and offer solutions.
A response to this involves understanding if the person is really too busy or trying to brush off the interaction. By asking questions to understand the response better, you can determine how to proceed. It may be that you need to approach a different resource within the company.
If your solution is not a priority for the customer/prospect, you can decide how to proceed. You can either continue to educate the person or discover if there is a better time to revisit your solution.
2. Too Expensive
It can be easy for a person to say that a solution is “too expensive.” Whether for an initial sale or upsell, budget is always a concern – and an easy way to avoid a conversation.
Try to uncover the real reason behind an objection to price. Sometimes this feeling is not based on any facts or comparison to other companies. You can put the price into context related to ROI or the cost not to move forward.
3. Lack of Engagement
It can be easy for a lead to say, “just send me more information,” and then never respond. Your customers may make an initial purchase, but then you hear from them very little and wonder about their overall adoption of your solution.
In both cases, careful marketing can increase the lead/customer’s awareness. You can provide more information about your company and what you offer. The lead or customer may start to better understand your company as the right fit for their pain points.
Always make sure that you are targeting the right resources within the organization. Lack of engagement could also be the result of not reaching the right decision-makers or power users.
4. Value Proposition
Above all, you need to establish your value with your leads and your customers. Whatever the cost, you need to show that your product offers value for the price.
Focus on benefits rather than features. If you focus too much on features, the response will always be, “but you don’t have x feature.” The overall benefit of whatever you do offer should offset any features you don’t yet.
Assessing the Challenges During the Acquisition Life Cycle
Part of your ability to overcome your leads and customers’ objections will depend on your assessment of these four challenges. That includes identifying your target market and positioning your brand as the right solution.
By qualifying your leads, you can better ensure that you are finding the right prospects. It does not serve your sales or customer service/support departments to pursue leads that are not a good fit. They are less likely to remain satisfied throughout the acquisition life cycle.