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Customers: love ‘em or lose ‘em

Liz Wendling //January 5, 2011//

Customers: love ‘em or lose ‘em

Liz Wendling //January 5, 2011//

Virtually every business owner knows that in today’s challenging economy and competitive business climate, retaining your customer base is critical to your business success. Your current long-term customers provide many financial benefits to your company. In fact, strengthening the relationship with your current customers is one of the most effective methods of boosting profits.

If you don’t give your customers good reasons to stay, your competitors will give them reasons to leave. Customer retention and satisfaction drive profits. It’s far less expensive to cultivate your existing customer base and sell more to them, than it is to seek new, single-transaction customers. Most surveys across industries show that keeping one existing customer is four to six times more profitable than attracting one new one.

So, many companies focus on increasing up-selling and cross-selling to current customers instead. Unfortunately, many salespeople avoid these techniques because they are afraid that suggesting additional products or services could scare off customers. Good salespeople know the difference between suggesting additional products verses forcing products on customers that they don’t need.

Your customers are your greatest asset and the key to your business growth. If you’ve served your current customers well, then they already like and trust you. At this stage they’re much easier to sell as opposed to a complete stranger who knows nothing about you or your business.

It’s all too easy to take existing clients for granted and to assume that if they’re happy with your current work they will automatically come to you with additional needs. Not true. Research shows that most customers don’t know the range of services you can provide to them. The result is that they go elsewhere for a service you could easily offer.

Here are just a few ways to profit from your current list of satisfied customers.

1. Educate: Sometimes you need to educate your current customers on the many ways you can be of service to them. You’re so familiar with your products or services that you may assume that you customers are just as familiar with them. Don’t assume they know about them or how they can help them solve their problems, faster, cheaper or better. Send them a flyer, post card or letter. Include a brief description for each product or service you sell as well as current prices and any special deals. They can’t buy it from you if they don’t know you sell it.

2. Cross-sell and up-sell: There is no better time to sell a customer more than when they are already in a buying mood. Cross-selling is when a customer is buying something, think of a related item that would complement or enhance the first item and ask if they would be interested in it. Up-selling is when they are considering one grade of a product or service, let them know about the features and benefits of a better grade of product or service. That’s not high-pressure; it’s letting them know their options. Never assume your customers always want the cheaper version of a product or service. They want the best value for their money.

3. Stay connected: One of the most powerful ways to increase profits in your business is to stay connected to current customers and remind them of your products and services. If you wait for your customers to come back on their own you may be waiting a long time. Customers have so many options today that you can’t rely on automatic loyalty. Your competition would love nothing better than to lure them away from you. You need to be proactive to ensure that doesn’t happen.

To remain competitive, you must figure out how to keep your customers longer, grow them into bigger customers, make them more profitable and serve them more efficiently. They get more out of doing business with you, and your revenue stream becomes more solid and secure. Remember, it’s not what you sell, it’s how you sell.
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