Sarah Muckler-Visser Global Director, Go-to-Market, One Commercial Partner

Go with what you know: the value of long-term customers

Customer service rep

As marketers and salespeople, we get excited about landing that big whale of a customer. We ring the bell and go out to celebrate, and then move on to chasing down the next big win. But that’s short-term thinking, and nurturing your relationship with customers for the long term has never been more critical.

Our industry has transitioned to a cloud subscription business model with many benefits, but this model also makes it easy for customers to switch to another cloud solution provider. That’s why it’s essential to maintain contact with your customers to remind them of the value you provide and make sure they stay happy. Consistently delivering outstanding customer experiences can also open opportunities to increase your footprint with existing customers by expanding the scope and scale of work you do for them.

It’s no secret that chasing down new customers is far more expensive than growing the work you already do, on average. As we noted in a recent Microsoft Partner blog, “… acquiring a new customer can cost you five times as much as retaining an existing one. And the probability of conversion between the two is enough to give anyone pause: new customers convert at a rate of 5-20%, while existing customers buy at a rate of 60-70%.”

In this post, I’ll share a few tips and resources to help you effectively connect with your customers to build and maintain fulfilling long-term relationships.

Understand your audience

First, it’s important to recognize that no two organizations are identical. Building real connections with your customers requires that you get to know them. Even before closing a sale, it’s helpful to map the type of customer you’re pursuing and to engage with them on the social and digital platforms they frequent. When possible, leverage data to deepen your understanding of where and how they prefer to be contacted and constantly refine how you interact.

In addition to learning about your contacts and their company’s brand and product offerings, work to understand how other departments operate and interact within their organization. This will uncover opportunities to identify and meet additional needs, which can organically grow your footprint with these customers. You can also strategically communicate with the contacts who know and trust you so they’re more likely to share information about offerings that could help their departments.

Get your touchpoints right

Genuinely understanding your customers enables you to optimize your touchpoints. That’s a powerful benefit. For example, if I love a particular newsletter but start receiving three new emails every week, I may get annoyed and choose to unsubscribe. It’s important to use the data you have to craft thoughtful engagements that provide value—without overdoing it. When in doubt, it’s always better to start slow and use smart digital tools to analyze what’s working, then ramp up from there.

As a Microsoft partner, you also have access to best-in-class sales and marketing content and programs to help you thoughtfully nurture your customer relationships. You’ll get resources to help you create thought leadership blogs and articles, customize digital content and lead-generation campaigns with intelligent tools, audit the effectiveness of your efforts, and more. And we’re committed to regularly updating these materials, so you’re equipped to meet the evolving needs of your customers.

It’s also beneficial to invest in establishing and nurturing relationships with Microsoft and other partners—particularly those that complement your offerings. These connections can lead to co-sell opportunities, which can help you tap new pools of customers and expand your scope with existing clients. As you establish trust and bundle offerings with reliable partners, customers are more likely to be satisfied with their overall experience and willing to continue doing business with your organization.

We’re here to help you build fulfilling relationships with your customers that can provide a lifetime of value. All of our partners have access to a wealth of marketing resources that can help strengthen your connections with other organizations, and even more materials become available as you grow your partnership with Microsoft. To get started, check out the go-to-market resources on the Microsoft partner website.

I’m a firm believer that understanding and prioritizing the needs of our customers is key to unlocking success for your organization and the collective partner network. As we all strive to better understand our audiences and deliver customized, effective touchpoints, I’m confident we will continue to grow and thrive together throughout 2020 and beyond.

Keep up on what other partners are doing with Microsoft Go-to-Market at @MicrosoftGTM