Looking After Your Customers for Greater Business Success
The number one priority of a business is to create and retain customers. Without customers you don’t have a business, and by maximazing your customers you can drastically increase profits. Therefore, customers are everything, and a good portion of your day should be spent creating and managing customer relationships.
A customer relationship starts as a sales lead. Maybe they saw your ad in the local paper and picked up the phone, or sent a message through your website or found you on Twitter. Maybe they stopped at your stand at a business exhibition. However you found them (or they found you) they are now a sales lead and must be kept on your radar until they make a purchase.
You may imagine that a sales lead or prospective customer relationship lasts for about 5 minutes – whereby you give a shaky sales pitch and hope they make a purchase – after which they say “yes” or “no” and that’s that. If so, then you need to work on your sales process! A topic for another article. A sales lead should only be allowed to walk away if your product or service is not suitable for them. That is; if it doesn’t solve a problem they have, or they don’t have a problem in the first place. If your product DOES solve a problem they are experiencing then you should walk away with one of two things; a sales order, or a promise to contact them again in a few weeks. Both of these require a system of processes to manage.
If you promise to contact a potential customer in a few days, weeks, months, or even this time next year, make sure you do. Perhaps you promised a sales brochure, or an e-mail to answer some questions. You absolutely must contact them when you say you will. Your approach to the relationship now is the only way they can judge your whole business. A poor experience now will make them assume your product or service is just as bad. Therefore you need a system to keep track of reminders such as sales calls.
So what happens when a prospect becomes a customer? Can you ease up on the contact? NO! During the sales process your contact with a prospect makes up 100% of their opinion of your product or service. Once they’ve purchased, research has shown that your contact with a customer still makes up 60-80% of their opinion about you. Customers are willing to pay more for a product or service if they think they’re being treated properly and are valuable to the company they’re buying from. Contact is still extremely important.
Call a customer 1-2 weeks after a sale. Ask them how they’re getting on. Is there anything else you can help them with? They might need support or have questions about your product. Maybe your product or service solved one problem but presented your customer with another – an opportunity for another sale. Maybe nothing at all. Either way they’ll be glad you called.
You’ve probably heard that it’s easier to sell to existing customers than to new ones. All that time and expense of reaching out to new people, each new customer you bring on board is more expensive than taking advantage of your existing contacts. So keep in touch with customers. Arrange to call them again in 3 or 6 months. Maybe arrange a monthly call. I know a man who calls his customers on a daily basis, but they’re high value customers with time-sensitive needs. My point is that you should always stay in contact with your customers, because you never know when they’re ready to buy again.
There’s another advantage to staying in contact with your customers and keeping their satisfaction levels high. If they love your product or service enough they’ll become an advocate of your company. Your best customers could become your best sales people too. When their customers or business associates need a company like yours they’ll be the first to promote you. But a customer will only become an advocate if they love you, and they’ll only love you if you stay in touch.
So what happens if you have 800 contacts, 45 active sales leads and 250 customers? You can’t possibly remember who you spoke to and who needs calling next. That’s where Customer Relationship Management (CRM) comes in.
CRM software keeps track of your contacts, deal negotiations and customers. It logs your e-mails and calls so you know when to speak to them again. It manages reminders to call, or action items, or e-mail sales material. And when your company grows and you hire more sales people the CRM software will let one sales agent know what others have been doing.
Are you looking forward to running a successful business? Then its time to get out your contact book and start dialling. Even if just to say hi. You never know where the next sale is going to be.