The shepherd understands his role implicitly: watch the sheep, keep them from wondering off, provide food so they will grow, and promote propagation.
With respect to client management and retention, business is a lot like that. We try and keep a watchful eye on our customers so we can anticipate their needs and service them. We continue to nurture them so they won’t wonder off due to complacency. And we attempt to stimulate propagation by gently requesting referrals.
Our customers become familiar with your ways and as long as we do a reasonably good job of tending, they will stick around.
The trade show is a unique place when it comes to shepherding. On the show floor, our flock has a chance to walk by all different kinds of shepherds. Some of them offer different opportunities than we do. Some appear to be more excited to see them than we have been. A few have created beautiful temporary environments (exhibits) to demonstrate what life with them would look and feel like. And still others try to garner the attention of our flock by offering fancy food, drink and treasure.
What’s a shepherd to do?
You can’t keep your customers from attending the trade show. You can’t keep the competition from calling. You can’t block certain web sites from their view. And, you can’t keep another shepherd from sponsoring the biggest watering hole.
But you do have an advantage: You are the current shepherd.
You know what they’ve been eating. You know the results of your care for them. Based on what you know about what the other shepherds offer, you can anticipate change and move to position yourselves accordingly. You can reinvest in your infrastructure so your flock sees less reason to stray and you and show your appreciation regularly.
On the show floor everything happens in real time. All the other shepherds are reaching out to pet your sheep as they walk by.
Make sure you don’t take them for granted. Don’t assume that they’ve been getting all the attention from you that they need or require.
Shepherds Rule #6 – Don’t spend more time trying to pet the other guys sheep than you do petting our own.
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