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Keep Your Top Clients Forever:
Ensure Long-Term Retention with Internal Champions
By Ira Koretsky
as this ever happened to you? complement your relationship with your key for each client using a 10-point scale with 10 include plant manager, director of security, vice
person. as the highest score. In general, focus your
president of public relations, manager of software
You have an excellent working relationship with evaluations on the recent years.
development, and quality assurance director.
a key decision maker (let’s call her Susan) at In this two-part series, we will cover steps one and 5. Sum the values in columns B through F into the

BestClient Corporation. Over time, you have built two below. Next month’s article describes steps Criteria Total for each client. Then sort the table
Sort the top client segment (the Priority group
up a strong bond with Susan based on consistent three and four. Together, following the four steps by Criteria Total, from highest to lowest.
with a rating of “1”) based on the value in the
quality and value. Your strong relationship has will help you keep your clients forever. 6. Divide the sorted client list into three
Key Person column, from lowest to highest. The
guaranteed a contract renewal each year. Then segments. Each segment should represent a
first organization listed is your top client with
(cue the playing of scary music) a reorganization Step 1: Identify Your Target Organizations third of your clients.
the fewest key person relationships. This is the
occurs. Susan departs. BestClient STILL needs If you are like many in thousands of organizations 7. Classify the top segment as “1” under Priority,
you. With Robbie now running the department, today, you more often than not use intuition to the second segment as “2,” and the bottom
organization with the greatest downside risk.
what are you going to do? What are the chances evaluate and rank your best clients. And if you use segment as “3.”
of building a relationship with Robbie like the any objective ranking criteria, it is likely revenue.
Abracadabra (well, sort of), you have ranked your
one you had with Susan? Most importantly, will Instead, maintain a Top Client Profile (TCP). A TCP You now have a ranked listing of your clients. As
top clients according to a simplified client risk
Robbie readily sign your contract for the coming ranks your clients according to criteria important you do more and more client modeling, refine,
analysis. Within the spreadsheet, you can add as
year? to your ongoing success. Example criteria include change, and add to your criteria and segments.
many criteria and segments as you would like.
value of referrals, value of testimonials, annual
Then perform advanced analysis to refine the list
Significant events outside your control may revenue, if they beta test your software, and Step 2: Identify Key Persons if you wish.
occur at client organizations any time. Examples lifetime client value (LCV). Let’s concentrate on just the first third, the
include promotions, change of management, “Priority” group, and call them your top clients.
This ends part one. In part two, we will cover
reassignments, mergers, acquisitions, retirements, Together, let’s walk through the process to create Within your spreadsheet, add a heading of Key
Step 3, identifying new key persons to build
and departures for a new job. Should a your own TCP. If you have never ranked your Persons to Column I. In this column, enter the
relationships with over time and Step 4,
“significant event” occur to your key contact, your clients, spreadsheet software makes this process number of people in your client’s organization
developing your own plan to turn these new
business relationship with that organization or easy. Here are seven step-by-step instructions. with whom you have a very strong relationship
key persons into internal champions. Together,
department may be in jeopardy. At the very least, AND where each person has significant status.
implementing these four steps will ensure
you must devote additional effort to build up the 1. Identify five ranking criteria. Annual revenue or Significant status includes decision makers, major
your long-term retention with your top clients,
relationship to compare to the one you enjoyed LCV are examples. influencers, and thought leaders. The “AND” here
with Susan. 2. Label the spreadsheet columns as follows: A as is very important, as each key person must be in
no matter what personal, professional, and
Organization Name, B through F with the five some type of decision-making position.
organizational changes may occur.
A deliberate relationship building plan within criteria identified in Step 1, G as Criteria Total,
Ira Koretsky is the president of The Chief Storyteller, a firm that
your client’s organization minimizes and can and H as Priority. Examples of key persons include members of the
turns your business stories into stories that sell, with keynotes,
mitigate negative consequences from significant 3. Populate the Organization Name column with C-suite such as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO),
workshops, and consulting. He can be reached at tbmag@
changes. Your success to long-term retention the names of your clients. Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and Chief Knowledge
lies in building multiple internal champions who 4. Input your ratings for each of the five criteria Officer (CKO). Examples of non C-suite key persons
0 ThinkBusiness April 2009 1
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