What To Do After You Close The Sale: Why Acquisition Is Good, But Retention Pays Better


When you make a sale, what is the first thing on your to do list? Happy dance? Happy hour? A night out on the town?

May I make a suggestion?

How about making another sale? And another, and another.

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This isn’t a fast-talking sales technique or a short-lived marketing gimmick; it’s the result of customer success done well. When you have a robust customer success program, you can start celebrating multiple sales within much shorter periods of time.

As you know, the new customer sales journey is a long and arduous road. But the current customer sales journey? It’s like a quick trip down to the market to pick up a carton of milk – at least in comparison. Numerous studies show that current customers are far more likely to buy again than prospective customers are to buy the first time. Customer success capitalizes on this, and so can you.

How Customer Success Makes Your Sales Job Easier

One of the primary goals of customer cuccess initiatives is to cultivate customers into brand advocates  (aka. “promoters”).

Promoters are loyal customers ready and willing to sing your praises. This group is statistically more likely to be repeat buyers, upgrade their accounts, try new offerings, and recommend your company to other interested parties.

Not only are these people happy with your product, they are delighted by your service, and most importantly, they are successful in achieving their desired outcomes. Basically, they are the end result of a customer success program that really works.

But let’s talk about those desired outcomes for a moment, because most people confuse this concept with customer happiness. They aren’t the same thing. Not at all.

Customer happiness and customer satisfaction are good. You want them. But, they’re not nearly as important as operationalizing systems and creating educational tools that will enable the customer to reach their desired outcomes. Those desired outcomes might not even be inside your product or app. In fact, they probably aren’t.

For example, if you operate an email service like MailChimp, the client’s success doesn’t happen when they send out a mass emailing. Success only happens if they achieve a high open rate.

Therefore, your customer success team might devise tutorials, blog content, webinars, or even an “academy” to train customers how to write more compelling emails.

Another example is Hubspot’s academy, training current and prospective users to learn more about inbound marketing, simultaneously educating and warming potential leads, and giving their current customers all the tools they need to be successful in the real world.

This is success. And customers who find success will be far more likely to recommend you to friends and colleagues, while at the same time becoming open to, and even eager for, upsells, cross-sells, and so much more. After all, they’re the warmest leads you can get – they sell themselves.

Make The Next Sale – A Limited Time Offer

According to Pitney Bowes research, 75 percent of all cross-sell opportunities occur within the first 90 days of a customer first buying your product. This first 90 day period is also when new customers are most likely to bail.

A study by RJ Metrics found that the majority of a customer’s lifetime value for their entire first year is realized within just the first month.

But, if they stay with you, that number grows to nearly 80 percent by year three. That means, if you concentrate on making the customer’s first month successful, you’ll drastically increase your chances of a good, long, profitable CLV.

Within this three month time frame, the odds are in your favor to make more sales – but only if you can prove your worth to the customer quickly.

Retention Is Powerful Stuff

Using research from Shopify’s Ecommerce Growth Benchmark, RJ Metrics noticed that a top quartile of new companies were growing far faster than their competition – companies that began at similar times. When they began digging into the reasons for these growth spurts, researchers found that not only were these successful companies acquiring 3.5 times more new customers than their competitors, they also excelled in retaining them early on.

In fact, 20 percent of their revenue came from repeat purchases in just their first few months of business. By the end of their first three years, the majority of their revenue was coming from repeat buyers.

But one other factor set them apart: These companies lead their new customers to make second purchases within the first 30 days.

RJ Metrics found that the likelihood of a customer of one of these top quartile companies to make a second purchase was nearly 30 percent. Once that second purchase was made, the likelihood of a third purchase rose to more than 50 percent. From there, the odds of additional purchases continued to rise.

Acquisition Is Good, But Retention Pays Better

Acquisition is where most sales teams begin and end. It’s all about landing the customer. But what if that isn’t where the big money is? Your success, your potential for sustainable growth and scalability, depend on a strong relationship between acquisition and retention, which can only happen when your customers achieve the successes they hope for.

Is It Time For A Paradigm Shift?

What if, as a sales person, you stopped thinking about the next sale and diverted your considerable energies into checking up on recently-won customers? If you haven’t already, ask them what their goals are. Set up trackable metrics for them so they can see (and so you can see) their progress towards reaching them. If you notice that they logged in three times in a row, and then stopped, see if they ran into a problem they couldn’t figure out how to solve. And within those first 30 days, take the most successful of these clients, and ask for that next sale.