I have been a major part of a Digital Agency and worked as a Freelance Marketing Consultant for 17 years. I have lived and breathed through countless innovations, reiterations and changes in the industry.

I have directly and indirectly serviced hundreds of different clients in many different ways in that time. And I have learned a few things on client procurement, client retention, and just what service and product offerings can stand the test of time with your client base.

I used to think that the easiest sell in the world was to sell something implausibly good for the money. I was wrong.

I used to think that it was best if you worked on all the latest “best practices” for your client. I was wrong.

I used to think that industry leaders and influencers had all the answers to help the vast majority of consultants and agencies, the lead and the influenced. Nope, guess what, wrong too.

First, the bad news.

Client procurement is hugely different no matter the industry. It is a primordial soup of promotion and sales actions, supplier skillsets and supplier resources combined with stakeholder wherewithal, company resources and decision makers and their personalities.

Sometimes life and evolution will spark and other times it won’t. Each procurement team needs to hone and polish their successful actions once learned for a given time period, client type and industry. I really do not think there is a formula out there that really works. You certainly cannot just put a sales team in place and get sustained sales growth and retained business. Those actions harm industry.

This is useful data, experiment with your procurement, find out what your potential client really needs before pitching them your services, make your service dovetail with the client’s needs and do not pitch without certainty that you can deliver results viably.

There is a formula for client retention and upsell. It flies in the face of most modern texts I have read on the subject of Digital Marketing.

Now, the good news.

There is a formula for client retention and upsell. It flies in the face of most modern texts I have read on the subject of Digital Marketing.

Most of them bang the drum for indirect return on investment on marketing, PR and promotional actions and that these actions are necessary to thrive without hard justifications for their continued expense. They say you cannot put a dollar sign on social actions (by the way they can put a dollar sign on social actions and it is called their social media marketing bill).

Others simply say “raise your prices” or “sell them more stuff”. I am not saying social doesn’t work – after all this is on social! I am saying it needs to have a proven ROI if you are going to provide it to outside parties and you want to keep getting more work. Don’t shortcut your upsells as you will quickly have no clients to upsell to.

Those formulas do not bring about retained clients that are buying more from you year on year.

If you want to retain your clients and get well paid for your services you NEED to clearly show their return on investment. You need to do it every single month. And you need to increase that return on investment at least year on year, if not quarter on quarter.

 So, what is the formula?

The formula is simple:

your actions + their business = more success,

followed by,

your actions + their business = even more success.

And its corollary:

their business - your actions = less success.

Some way along that line you get this formula:

your actions + their business then = their business now.

You become a vital part of their business.

Just remember, you have to be able to prove it.

Following this formula in business the past 5 years has been interesting. 95% of my clients are retained and have increased their spending significantly over that time period OR quit after the first month or so.

I say if they are going to quit, let them quit as soon as possible. Were they even clients? I think of them more as mistakes. Minimise the headache, don’t dwell on mistakes so you can focus on providing cold, hard, proven, ever-increasing ROI for your forever-clients.

In my 17 years of digital marketing I have picked up experience marketing in various industries: legal, financial, automotive. Each is incredibly divergent from the last – but one for one – dropping those actions I could not prove a return on investment whether social media for car dealers, PPC for personal injury solicitors or national SEO for IFAs, all considered excellent sources of business in their time, has meant I have concentrated on and refined those actions that dohave proven ROI. My clients are happy. I am happy.

Prove to your clients the returns they make on your actions. If you cannot, your actions are probably not making significant ROI. Confront it. Change it. Find actions with a good, provable ROI and show it to your clients. Then, improve that ROI over time. You will feel pride and respect. Your clients will feel pride and respect for you. They are your forever-clients.

P.S. These sentiments applied and communicated could help your procurement team after all.