I recently had a conversation with a good friend of my who runs a large, local church. We were discussing the issue churches have dealing with visitors. I told him, “Churches get so excited when they have guests that they oversell the whole experience. They try to get them to become members, sign their kids up for camp, give money and convert all at the first visit. We have to remember that the most important service is the NEXT service.”

In this case, the most important thing to a church is getting people to come back to the next service. Then getting them back for the service after that. And the service after that. And so on, until you eventually end up with committed members whose kids are signed up for camp and give money.

That mindset should change a church’s approach to their services. Is it necessary for the Pastor to speak for an hour and try to download all major doctrine to attendees? In case he never sees them again? Should we run through the next three months worth of announcements? What if people don’t come back for a while? Do we need to be that aggressive in collecting contacting information? That may be our only shot.

It’s a long-term approach for sure. An approach that values relationship over transaction. An approach that places the person in front of the purchase.

Whether you’re a non-profit or for-profit, this is an important principle.


The most important service is… the next one.

The most important transaction is… the next one.

The most important appointment is… the next one.

The most important purchase is… the next one.


Target failed to realize this in 2013 after hackers from Russia pulled off one of the largest retail security heists in history. Over 40,000,000 credit cards and over 110,000,000 records were stolen during the Holiday shopping season. Thousands of families had credit cards shut down during one of the most important purchasing times of the year. Target failed to realize that their most important purchase is the next one.

And that meant making consumers feel secure.

Profits for the fourth quarter fell 46% (their lowest since 2008) and failed to recover months later as many consumers made decisions not shop there. Will Target bounce back? Yes. Will they be around in 10 years if major breaches like this continue take place? No. Target now has to switch gears and communicate its commitment to security. They’ve allocated $61 million in the next year alone to do this.

The National Sales Association states that 2% of sales are made on the first contact.

2%. That’s all.

It’s worth stopping to Think. About. That.


3% of sales are made on the 2nd contact.

5% of sales are made on the 3rd contact.

10% of sales are made on the 4th contact.

80% of sales are made on the 5th -12th contact.


Touch a customer, client or patient 5–12 times and you become a selling machine. The problem is very few of us have the patience for 12 contacts.

Not too long ago I sat down with a husband and wife dental team who were practicing on the east coast. They reached out to me to discuss their “marketing problems.” Their main marketing strategy was sending out direct mail letters they had written to the surrounding community. This mail campaign was routinely generating an astounding 90–110 new patients a month (In case you’re unfamiliar with the dental industry, 25–30 new patients per doctor is a nice average). I looked shocked, laughed and said, “It sure doesn’t sound like you have a marketing problem.”

They didn’t share my humor. The real issue was that they were loosing 90% of those new patients after the first appointment.

After digging into the problem I realized that they were spending two to three hours with each new patient preparing a comprehensive oral analysis that often amounted to expensive treatment. New patients were blown away. They thought they were showing up for a “cleaning” and were walking out with $6500 worth of diagnosis.


My advice: The most important appointment is the next appointment.

If you can keep them in the practice I promise you’ll eventually be able to complete the $6500 treatment plan. By forcing it on them at the initial meeting you’re loosing them for good.

Call it customer retention or call it good old fashion patience. Regardless, we should reshape our interactions to so that we win the right to have another.