New sales are the lifeblood of every business. Without continually refreshing your customer bank your business will soon become unstuck. However, it’s a known fact that new sales generally only make up about 20% of a company’s overall business.
Far more lucrative, and potentially easier, is driving more business from existing customers. That’ll be around 80% of your sales activity and really it couldn’t be more straightforward. You already know your customers so all you need to do is pay a visit or pick up the phone and, like magic, your order book is full.
In reality, that doesn’t happen of course. In fact, building a long term relationship with an existing client isn’t easy at all. There’s a fine line between knowing how and when to keep in touch with existing customers and creating an unmitigated sales disaster.
Here are six tips that will help you drive more repeat business without driving your customers round the bend.
1. Regulate your contact frequency
When thinking about keeping in touch with your customers, stop and take a moment to think when you were last in touch. A day ago? Or a week ago? It’s all very well asking how things are going every now and again but if you do that too often you’ll quickly go from contact to pest.
2. Only share the good news
The golden rule is to only share the good news and only do that when you have good news to share. To see how that works, put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Imagine if you receive regular calls from someone you’ve bought from and all the calls consist of is “how are you?” You’ve been interrupted for nothing and in a very short space of time you’ll be going slightly mad.
3. Give your customers permission to contact you
One of the most effective ways of initiating effective long term sales relationships is to give your customers permission to contact you. Leave them with a direct land line number, your mobile number, your direct email address – and tell them they can contact you 24/7. They’ll love it and you’ll lose the temptation of calling them every five minutes to find out how things are going.
4. Give your meeting a purpose
Even though you might be abiding by tips one to three above, you’ll still need to have some contact with your customer and the trick here is not to just do it but do it with purpose and reason. For example, you want to keep in touch on a monthly basis so why not hold a monthly review meeting? All of a sudden there’s a reason for you being in touch – and by calling the meeting a review you’ll be demonstrating that you care for you customers over the long term.
5. Contact your technical support team instead
Many products and services require some form of sales support. This will be out of your hands – you’ll be trusting the relationship you’ve created with your customer to a team of people who have a very different outlook towards your customers than you. What you can do in this situation is keep in touch with the support crew on a daily or weekly basis and be prepared to jump in and handle any complaints or problems with authority and ease. This isn’t fire fighting – this is how strong customer relations are forged.
6. Don’t be blinded by your sales target
Sales is a high pressured job. In one form or another you’ll most likely have targets to meet and while this can be an enjoyable adrenaline rush during the good times, when things get sticky targets can become all-consuming monsters. The rule is NEVER contact an existing customer when your back is against the wall without fully preparing beforehand. Remember, your customer will want you to be relaxed, personable, friendly and informative – not desperate, agitated and pushy. A sales target is your problem – don’t make it theirs.
Being a great sales pro is all about striking the right balance between not driving customers mad by being in touch too regularly and not driving your customers to forget you because you leave it too long between calls.
No sales person sets out to drive their customers doolally but it’s an easy trap to fall into. So use common sense, give awesome customer service and give every reason to make your customers mad for you not at you. Do this and long-term, lucrative relationships will dawn.
By Doug Tucker, Managing Director of Sales Commando, an international sales training organisation. His motto is “Have fun. Make money”. More sales techniques, advice and tips can be found in Doug Tucker’s book ‘Sales Commando, Unleash Your Potential’. The book gets straight to the heart of issues, complexities and opportunities and encourages and accelerates personal growth and sales success.