If you own a small business, one of your primary concerns is likely how to attract new sales. Perhaps you’ve even revamped your website, and are now posting regularly on social media and attempting to reach out to an ever-widening circle of would-be customers. That’s great, and those efforts can help you build a successful business, but what about your existing customers? If you aren’t doing what you can to retain your current customers, you are missing out on potential revenue and damaging your bottom line.
“If you gain a customer through your marketing efforts but lose one you already had because you weren’t paying enough attention to her,” explains Forbes, “you end up with the same number of customers — but lower margins — because it costs far more to gain a new customer than to keep an existing one.” Here are some great ways you can increase your sales with existing customers right now.
The first step to selling more to your existing customers is to build their trust. Make sure you take action. When a client asks you for something, like an email confirmation or an answer to a question, make sure you do it. When you ask for feedback, make sure your clients can see you implementing changes in some form. This type of follow-through helps build trust because, over time, the client comes to expect that you will make good on your word, however big or small your promise.
Make sure that each encounter with a client is one that exceeds their expectations – both in work you put into the product and the efforts you put toward building that customer relationship. While it is essential to deliver what you promised on time and on budget, communication is just as important. If there is any variation expected to happen in the delivery of your product or service, the billing for that offering or anything else, you need to take steps to keep your clients in the loop. While good communication alone does not build trust, poor communication certainly erodes it.
Copy the Competition
Keep an eye on what your competition is doing as well. Your rivals will develop different products, policies, services, promotions and ways of interacting with clients, and some of these could be powerful enough to lure away even your oldest customers. Stay on top of what your competition offers as well as their social media.
Ask for Feedback
Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. While you want to be seen as an expert, it doesn’t hurt that image to poll your clients about their experiences with your products or services. When you ask a client what you are doing right and what areas could use improvement, you are essentially telling that person that you value his or her business enough to change the way you do things. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your clients for their opinions about your industry or your regional market. It shows you value their perspectives.
Likewise, be proactive. “As a service or product supplier, customers look to you as the expert,” explains the Harvard Business Review. “They rely on you to perform important tasks they cannot do themselves. This places more emphasis on you, as the provider, to be proactive. When you are not proactive, value erodes.” The lesson here is that you need to interact with your customers and anticipate their needs. This could be something as simple as sending top clients a birthday card, or it could include inviting a client to lunch or an exclusive event like a conference.
If you can keep your current customers engaged, then it won’t matter if you have a few hundred regular visitors or thousands – you can improve your bottom line starting right where you are using these techniques.