Echelon focuses on the secrets of keeping – and gaining - customers in an economic downturn

From: Echelon
Published: Mon Jan 05 2009

The paper – authored by sales performance specialists Huthwaite International - is one of the ‘action lists’ on the ‘Learningmatters’ website. This website is Echelon’s ‘virtual warehouse’ of over 2,000 downloadable bite-size performance solutions including 300 action lists for everyday business problems; 650 self-development solutions to help build a skill; 200 best practice essays/interviews with top business thinkers; 100 diagnostic and audit solutions to check out current performance; 250 digest articles on business giants and management books, and 600 training solutions to help build skills in others.

Among the paper’s eight key points are:
• Dissatisfaction is the first step to losing business, so the best way of keeping your existing business is to ensure that any existing client dissatisfaction, no matter how small, is detected and addressed at the earliest possible opportunity. So check user satisfaction regularly and respond quickly.

• Develop perceptions of value, so document all the good news. If clients have no understanding of the value your business is bringing to their business it’s not surprising that they see little problem in changing suppliers.

• Maintain and extend your network of contacts, rather than maintain links with an ageing and shrinking pool of business contacts. In a downturn companies shed people - and losing your key contact can leave you vulnerable to change.

• Develop accounts, don't just maintain them. Explore what changes the customer plans to make to cope with the slow-down and consider the extent to which such change can provide opportunities for your business as well as threats.

• Expect price pressure but take time to check the full cost of any concessions you are being asked to make. Make sure customers fully understand the value of what they are getting and plan how you will negotiate if price becomes an issue.

If you have to give ground on price, try to trade it for other things of value such as better payment terms, or more business. Don't be fooled by promises of ‘jam tomorrow’ in return for concessions today: make concessions conditional on getting that extra business now.

• Watch your own cost of the sale and don't chase business where your chances of success are low. We can fool ourselves that we are making progress when, in fact, we are wasting time and money on a client where nothing is going to happen.

• Review your marketing strategy. Building brand is fine but good leads now could be more important.

• Offer clients low risk solutions.

"The paper stresses the importance of looking for ways to enable your organisation to become an active part of your customers' activities," commented Echelon’s chairman, David Hill.

"Following this advice should enable businesses to improve their relationships with their customers – making it more difficult for them to sever business links. In the current economic climate, that could mean the difference between retaining business and losing it to a competitor.

"This paper is one of many on the Learningmatters website," he added. "Each of these offer sound advice and, increasingly, this website – with its ease of access, allowing users to study as and when they wish rather than being restricted to ‘set learning times’ by a formal course of study - is being used by executives as a source of job support and for their continuous professional development (CPD)."

For the free sample action list – Retaining customers in an economic downturn – visit


For further information please contact

Media contact: Bob Little Tel + 44 (0)1727 860405; Email:

Sales contact: David Hill Tel + 44 (0)20 8568 1500; Email:

About Echelon Learning Ltd

Echelon is an organisation development consultancy with a 20-year track record of delivering targeted communication, training and performance support solutions that really make a difference to corporate, government and not-for-profit organisations and professional bodies.

The company helps its clients create and sustain improved operational performance by developing high levels of employee engagement and competence that leverage their ability to achieve outstanding results, particularly in times of change.

Echelon publishes a wide range of business and management solutions that offer job support and lifelong career development:

Clients include:

Channel Tunnel Rail Link
London Overground Rail (LOROL)
Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply
Department of Work and Pensions
Festival Housing Association
Royal Town Planning Institute
Company: Echelon
Contact Name: Bob Little
Contact Email:
Contact Phone: 00 44 (0) 1727 860405

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