B2B Marketing Blog

Written by Lisa Shepherd
on June 27, 2016


It’s been said that the cost of acquiring1 new clients is 6 to 7 times higher than the cost of keeping your existing ones. Reactivating an existing contact base is an incredibly efficient and effective strategy that holds the potential to greatly influence your company’s bottom line. So before you send out the troops to scope out new business, try these 5 steps to forge new relationships with old connections.




1) Identify Inactive Clients

Before you can re-engage old clients, you’ll need to identify which clients have become inactive. Begin by deciding on the length of time that must have lapsed to warrant the new communication; this will differ depending on your industry. Is it 6 months? 2 years? Once you’ve established the parameters, most CRM’s will allow you to search based on this criteria and pull names accordingly.

2) Ask Why

Determining why this client hasn’t recently done business with you is critical to creating a strategy to re-engage them. Did the relationship turn stale for a reason? Was there a conflict? Was it timing related (for instance, business that takes place on an annual basis)? Or did you just drift apart? Each circumstance will be unique and your method for targeting each client should be custom built to suit the clients’ needs. 

3) Who Makes the Cut?

It’s a fact: In business, there are clients you love, and clients you less-than-love. If a client relationship has become inactive, be sure to question whether you truly want to do business with this client again before re-engaging them. Were they late paying their bills? Difficult to please? Take this into consideration before making contact. This vetting should be led by sales team followed by a debrief with marketing department.

4) Make a Game Plan

Now you can formulate a strategy to bring the inactive client back into the fold. It’s best to use the communication method that the client has been most comfortable with in the past. Did you talk on the phone? Email? Text? Reach out in the same manner to better your odds. Keep these tips in mind during that first interaction:

  • Don’t lose sight of your history! Keep the messaging personal.
  • Reference your past transactions. Refresh their memory while letting them know that their needs are still fresh in your mind.
  • Do your homework. Congratulate them on any big events that have taken place in their company recently, or discuss notable news items pertaining to their industry.
  • Offer fresh, engaging content with some commentary on how relates to them.
  • Inform them of a new service or product, including a case study to demonstrate value.
  • Offer special pricing on a product or service they use or need.

5) Keep them Engaged

You’ve lost them once. Don’t let it happen again! Give each returning client the same care that you would give to a new acquisition. It’s a honeymoon all over again. After the initial interaction (and hopefully transactions!) be sure to keep the client in the loop moving forward by inviting them to subscribe to your newsletters and follow you on social media. The frequency of your communication should relax a bit at this stage while still remaining in contact enough to be kept front of mind.

Re-activating lapsed customers is a long-term strategy, so take this into consideration when measuring the success of your plan. Clients who have strayed and been lovingly brought back into the flock have the potential to become your most loyal brand ambassadors. Take a lifetime approach both from a sales and marketing standpoint and the dollar value will increase along with the depth of your relationship.

[1] Smart Insights, “10 Ways to Reactivate Your Customer Base”, http://www.smartinsights.com/customer-engagement/customer-engagement-strategy/10-ways-to-reactivate-your-customer-base/

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