An Entrepreneurs Committee Event
New sales strategies for today’s business climate – and delicious Italian food – were on the menu at the Entrepreneurs Committee spring luncheon featuring author and entrepreneur Jeri Quinn.
The event began with networking in the private dining room at Lattanzi’s theater district restaurant, followed by welcoming remarks from Diana Merenda, a member of the FWA Leadership Team and co-chair of the Entrepreneurs Committee. Diana gave a brief history of the Financial Women’s Association, its mission, and the good work the organization has done especially for the girls scholarship fund. Each of the other 27 attendees then introduced themselves and their businesses. The diversity of the audience was noteworthy, including a healthy mix of multi-industry entrepreneurs as well as, financial service professionals. There was a good ratio of FWA members, new qualifying applicants and other guests.
Alana McNichol, a member of the FWA Leadership Team and co-chair of the Entrepreneurs Committee, took the floor to introduce the event’s featured speaker, Jeri Quinn. As an author, consultant, and professional development expert, Jeri highlights the importance of customer loyalty and employee engagement within small to mid-size businesses. Her most recent book, The Customer Loyalty Playbook: 12 Game Strategies to Drive Improved Results in Your Business, focuses building a customer loyalty infrastructure into your business. The book gives you the “why” and the “how” of customer loyalty so you can enjoy its benefits in your business. Having worked with executives and teams in over 40 industries, spoken at major business expos, and facilitated business development in companies both large and small, Jeri knows how to captivate an audience’s attention.
Jeri began her presentation with an interactive discussion of how people buy today and the factors that influence a purchase decision. Attendees learned that online reviews and personal referrals are more highly valued today than ever before. For that reason, it is critical for businesses to capitalize on these sources of new customers.
Jeri’s visual aids effectively drove the message home. Picture an outline of the “traditional funnel” as the metaphor for focusing on new clients: start with the widest point for leads, then find opportunities (less wide), submit proposals (small), and get new customers (tiny). However, the trend today is to “flip the funnel” and focus resources on cultivating existing clients to become loyal customers who will become advocates for your company or product, and build your brand awareness. Not only does this approach make sense on its face, it costs less! Jeri explained that the cost of sales people, salaries, commissions, and benefits – all primarily to secure new clients – is huge relative to the cost of getting new business from existing clients. The best client relationships are the longer-term variety, preferably for life.
Lattanzi’s pear, arugula and gorgonzola salad was the perfect backdrop for Jeri’s next course: nine compelling reasons to focus on customer loyalty, including increasing profit, the potential for more referrals, and having a competitive advantage. A great way to build loyalty, Jeri continued, is to build engagement within your company. A handout featured ten tips, including using social media; hosting inclusion events, such as client appreciation or non-profit sponsorship; and updating your company website with things your client base cares about.
Jeri’s final course was emotional! She explained that people buy on emotion, noting research that identifies customer experience as outweighing all other factors combined in how buyers make purchase decisions. Jeri asked the audience for examples of great buying experience, and five attendees shared some remarkable customer service encounters, including an attendee’s comparison of experiences at two different local hospitals. Jeri also shared several notable stories of great experiences from large brands, most memorably the stories of Disney employees who went above and beyond to return a lost stuffed giraffe and a Zappos employee who tracked down a late-night pizzeria for customers who called the retailer’s customer service phone line.
By use of both audience examples and brand experiences, Jeri introduced the methodology of analyzing the step-by-step process customers go through to purchase from your company and how to improve every step. Jeri’s “customers” – her audience – agreed that the luncheon and presentation were great experiences and lingered for more networking. After this stimulating presentation concluded, audience members continued the conversation of how to create amazing customer experiences at their tables. Attendees left energized with ways to improve their current customer loyalty base.
A huge thank you goes to Lattanzi Italian Restaurant for their beautiful space, incredible lunch, and unobtrusive service.