When I start sales consulting with small business owners, the very first thing I get them to focus on is
increasing sales from their current customers and prospects. Without a doubt, the fastest way to grow a business is to increase what your current customers and prospects are buying from you!
Amazingly, this is one area that most small business owners ignore! Some form of outbound advertising is usually the first thing the typical business owner does when they want to increase sales. The easiest thing to do is to call up the newspaper and place an ad, or get some flyers printed and pass them out.
Yes, outbound advertising has a place in your marketing plan. But marketing to current customers is the fastest and easiest way to increase sales. These are the people who already know you, trust you, and like you.
A few other benefits of selling to your current customers:
- The additional sale or work they need is often much more fun and profitable.
- When you concentrate on meeting your best customers’ needs, you make it almost impossible for your competitors to steal them from you.
- They are much more likely to refer their friends to you. Since people tend to be friends with people similar to them, the quality of the referral is very high.
Here are the TWO areas you should concentrate on first: *STAY TUNED FOR 3 MORE TOMORROW!
ONE: Convert a higher percentage of prospects into paying customers. Count how many prospects you meet with who actually turn into paying customers. When I started, about a third of the prospects I met with turned into paying customers. Now this number is close to 80%. In fact, I am in the enviable position of turning away customers who are not a good fit for me.
These are some of the steps I would take to improve in this area:
- Measure your current closing rate. If you don’t have a baseline, how will you know if you are improving?
- Identify every first contact point with the prospect.
- Determine what the goal of that first contact is. Is it to sell? Is it to educate? Is it to get a meeting with them? Plan accordingly.
- Impress upon everyone who has first contact with a prospect that your goal is to get a customer for life, not a one-time sale.
- Script out the first contact in detail. Too often the first contact with a prospect is made with a sales clerk or receptionist who has not been trained in sales. It just makes me cringe when good advertising has brought me into a store and the first person who greets me (or too often ignores me!) makes a bad first impression! What a lost opportunity.
- Measure your new closing rate to see if there was improvement.
- If not, determine why not, and make one change in the process.
- Measure again and repeat.
TWO: Turn your first-time customers into long-term customers who come back frequently. This is too important to leave to chance! Get a plan in place to WOW your prospects so that they will never consider anyone else. Think of this as a first date where you and your staff are on your best behavior. Give your new customer your undivided attention, and really work to determine their true needs and solve their problems.
Contact your best customers and ask them what they like best about buying from you. Also contact customers who bought once and never returned. Find out what you could have done differently to make them return.
Give your customers an incentive to return. Frequent buyer cards, customer discounts, and special events for your best customers are some common ways of accomplishing this.
Educate your customers regularly on how your product or service improves their lives. An educated customer buys more!
Don’t let your customers believe you don’t care about them. Stay in contact. Emails to customers and print newsletters work well. Remember, your customers are not walking around thinking about the next time they will have the pleasure of spending money with you. In fact, they are bombarded with so many sales messages in an average day that they may have already forgotten about you.
Check in tomorrow for THREE MORE GREAT WAYS!
P.S. Watch our four-part Jump-start Your Business Now webinar series at www.freeISBstrategies.com where we will explore how to quickly increase sales without spending a lot on advertising in even more detail.