Increase Sales with Existing Customers

Nourishing client relationships can boost your bottom line.

Nourishing client relationships can boost your bottom line.

While every small business is on a quest to grow, acquiring new customers can be expensive. But your current roster of clients can be an untapped goldmine and a less costly pathway to additional sales, new revenue streams, and reaching new business goals.

“It’s more profitable to go after existing customers,” says Lauren Freedman, president of the e-tailing group inc., a customer-centric e-commerce consulting firm whose clients include Saks Fifth Avenue, Discovery Channel, and Hotels.com. Since long-time clients are already familiar with your company and its products or services, there are often fewer marketing expenses involved. While it’s important to look for new customers, the end goal should be to keep them so they can buy from you multiple times.

Want to increase your sales with the client base you already have? Freedman offers these tips for making existing customer relationships more profitable:

Reward customers for spending more. Few things are more convincing than cold hard cash. Let customers know their wallets get a boost whenever they buy from you. Freedman recommends enticing existing customers with loyalty programs that periodically offer double the rewards. Additionally, categorizing deals and discounts provides the customer with options such as a gift with a purchase, 50 percent off, or free shipping.

Monitor the customer’s buying cycle. Tracking how often existing customers purchase certain products helps small business owners gauge when to forward marketing materials. If you know clients tend to buy at the end of the year, you might start e-mailing weekly sales specials and discounts in the fall. Knowing your customers’ buying habits also helps you ensure that products are in stock when you need them. “People don’t want to wait,” advises Freedman. “You’ve got to make sure you’ve got it available to ship to them or for them to pick up immediately.”

Invest in customer service. “Take good care of the customer and the customer will be loyal,” says Freedman. That might mean hiring enough employees to handle requests promptly or creating a hassle-free process for product returns. If a customer has a good experience, he or she is likely to come back. “People are very viral and they will share that with family and friends, giving you another way to extend your customer base,” Freedman notes.

Maximize online sales. If you have an online business, speed is paramount. People shop online not just for price but for convenience. “Make it quick for people to check out. Make the user experience really easy to follow,” Freedman explains. You also want to make it easy for customers to find what you’re selling. “We live in this culture where everyone searches for everything,” says Freedman. “Make sure that when people do a search on your website the search returns relevant results.”

It’s always great to win a new customer, but small businesses that build long-term relationships with existing customers perpetually yield more sales from them – and creating a culture of loyalty can only help in boosting your bottom line.

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