Reaching decision makers when they aren’t the ones paying the bill

09Jul09

Let’s say you’re a mobile phone provider. Many of your customers are companies with 10-50 employees. In most cases, one of the owners or managers made the original decision about which phone provider to use, but then assigned the routine task of receiving and paying the bill each month to someone who works in accounting.

As months and years go by, you want to retain the account and keep the decision maker informed about new products and services. But how do you reach them when they never see the bill or other correspondence that you send? Here are a few ideas:

– Encourage the bill recipient to tell their co-workers or boss about the latest promotions. (Simple, but probably not very compelling.)

– Try to schedule quarterly or annual account reviews where you offer to analyze how they’re using the service and point out opportunities for added benefits. (Comes across as pushy, and very labor intensive if people accept.)

– Provide a special link that contains info on the latest products and promotions, and let the recipient know that they’ll receive a $5 discount on the bill for every person in the company that actually visits the link, up to some reasonable amount. (Takes some work to set up, but potentially very effective.)

I like the last option the best, since it provides a financial incentive for the person who reads the bill to spread the word to the right people in the organization — and makes them look good to their boss for saving money. Regardless of the industry they’re in, I believe that many companies face the communication and retention problem I described above. Anything that helps break down those barriers is certainly worth a try. Whether or not customers perceive it as a retention strategy, they’ll certainly respect your efforts to stay in touch and serve them better.



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