Balance the Need to Protect Your Client List with Your Desire to Close Sales
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
When telephone answering services overhaul their websites or seek to tweak its content, many services wonder if they should post a partial list of some of their major accounts. Some answering services do this, and I have mixed feelings about the practice.
Pros and Cons
On one hand, listing major accounts gives credibility to your organization and the services you provide. It lets prospects know that larger companies, who they respect, have already investigated your services and picked you. What a great endorsement.
However, posting your major accounts also tells your competitors who your main clients are. This gives other services the opportunity to contact your accounts and try to steal their business from you. In an industry noted for its high client churn rates, is it worth the risk of giving competitors a head start on poaching some of your most valued clients? Of course, the counterargument is that if you provide great service and high value, you’re not in danger of losing them anyway.
Some services who list major accounts will just display client logos. These images, especially of well-known companies, provide immediate credibility to your prospects, without opening you to too much risk exposure. The larger the company, the more this is true. Visually this affords much greater impact than merely listing the company name.
A related issue is whether to link the logo or company name to your client’s website. Though your client might appreciate the link for SEO purposes, it accomplishes little else.
Another approach is to ask for and post testimonials. Some services will list the organization and the person’s full name and title. This is almost an invitation to your competitors to approach these clients. That’s why I prefer not to do this. Instead don’t share the person’s last name, and maybe not even the company name. Instead, give the industry they’re in. This would produce a testimonial tag such as “Julie B, director of communications at a major hospital network in the northeast United States.”
A third option is to post nothing online. Instead, note that references are available upon request. This goes a long way to protect your client list from poaching, while still providing an extra push to help close the sale.
Before you post your major accounts online for the whole world to see, consider the downside to doing so, what you want to accomplish, and if there’s a better way to reach that goal. It’s hard work to land a new answering service account, so make sure you do everything to hold onto them once they sign up.