Don’t Forget Your Existing Customers!

In days of old, the sales focus of a company was about maximising the number of products or services they sold, at all costs. This antiquated approach of ‘transaction marketing’ was often to the detriment of building long-term customer relationships, and failed to maximise the potential of their client base. It was a short-term, limited communication strategy focusing on individual sales, and was inevitable counter productive.

don't forgetImage Source – Craig Sunter (CC License)

Nowadays, the paradigm is very different. The hard and fast sell approach reminiscent of the second-hand car dealer is a business dinosaur that has become extinct. The most effective organisations are those that realise the true direct value of nurturing lasting relationships with customers, and reaping the tremendous advantages as a result. They have learnt the value of relationship based selling, and discovered that it not only increases revenue but decreases marketing costs, resulting in a strong bottom line.

Never has this lesson been more valuable. In today’s fast-paced and competitive environment, and in the face of a global economic downturn, win-win is the only game to play. Companies that grasp this concept fully, and maximise the potential of technology in their marketing strategies, will survive and thrive.

Any organisation that needs a health check in terms of their customer relationship model ought to implement policies, procedures and measures along these lines:

– Regular and quality communication is maintained with their existing customers

– Measures are taken to show true commitment to meeting their customers needs

– Stringent customer service policies designed to exceed expectations

– Ensuring sales approaches are benefit driven

– Building long term relationship strategies

Consumers will always choose to buy from companies who make them feel valued. By showing a strong commitment in the core principles of service and relationship building, companies will often not have to be the most competitive on price or lead time. The net result will be higher profits and a true win-win.

It’s important to emphasise that we have been talking about sales and marketing strategy with existing clients. Many businesses make two significant and common mistakes; they spend huge amounts in an incessant and cyclical drive to find new customers, and don’t spend enough time and money keeping the best ones they already have.

Many organisations recognise the need to shift or increase their marketing focus. Some invest in training their in-house staff through seminars and training schemes to improve individual’s skills and development. However, this can be a costly exercise, and the individuals involved typically don’t have the time resources available to put into practice their new learning.

Other organisations are increasingly looking for specialist help in maximising the revenue potential of their client base, by outsourcing to specialist companies. Often, this will be in the form of outbound telemarketing companies, who are purely dedicated to a core set of goals and have specific professional experience in getting the most of customers, not necessarily having to involve a direct sale.

Here are some key ways an outbound telemarketing company can help you unlock the potential of your existing client base, and some simple examples:

Follow up calls – This may range from simply checking that your client has received requested information, to getting an update on a sales quote. Customers enjoy regular and seemingly inoffensive contact; it heightens their experience of dealing with your company, and creates a good impression.

Customer Care Strategies –This may be as simple as checking in with your customer to see how they are, to actively providing them with a great post sales service. The customer experience doesn’t end when they receive your unit of product or service, you can find out how their getting on with it, and discover whether you can make their next purchase experience even better. This is also a great platform to implement pro-active customer care initiatives such as loyalty or reward schemes.

You may also want to use the opportunity to find out afresh what the customer feels is your organisation’s strengths and weaknesses, what makes them choose you over others, and discover what else they may benefit from, which you could provide.

Database updating and Data Mining – Information is power, and old data and information on your client’s company can be embarrassing to yours. Also, this is a great opportunity to find out more information about your client that can be later used for a targeted marketing campaign.

Knowing which questions to ask can help a company identify their optimum customer profile. Remember Pareto’s 80/20 rule; eighty percent of a company sales and profit revenue derives from twenty percent of its customer. If you can identify a profile pattern within that twenty percent cash cow, you’re ideally equipped to find new customers that are similar.

Surveys and Focus Groups – Perhaps you are looking into a new product or service, and need to test the market. By carrying out surveys and organising focus groups you can get critical feedback which may substantially change your product or service package; you’ll know what works, what doesn’t and may even discover completely new ideas or enhancements.

New Product Sales Campaigns – Much time and money is invested in the launching of new products, yet all too often the marketing focus is on pushing it on new potential clients. Your existing clients really would gain from knowing what new things you have to offer, and hearing about how it can benefit them.

Lead Generation – This is the traditional bread and butter fare of most telemarketing companies. It’s easy to get complacent with existing clients, and forget to sell to them. Let’s be clear, it should be easier to sell to someone you already deal with than someone you don’t. It’s a mistake to assume that they’ll come to you when they need something; sometimes a customer needs prompting to send a new purchase order or quote request. Your best customers will sometimes pro actively look within their organisation for a new opportunity for you on your behalf!

Customer Retention – If you’ve noticed a decline in order values from your customers, or worse are in danger of losing them, steps can be taken to find out exactly what’s lacking in the client’s experience, and what it would take to turn things around. Not only will this help with retention, but it will also inform your management as to how to take better preventative measures in the future.

Seminar organisation – Once a seminar is devised and a venue booked, calls can be made to discuss its benefits with your clients, arrange attendance and disseminate literature and relevant information. They can then call the clients after the event to get a true measure of the seminars success.

All these examples discussed will help you meet your goals. Whatever approach you decide to take when ensuring your business is customer relationship focused, you will find that nurturing your long-standing client base will have a reciprocal effect and ensuring the longevity and profitability of your business.

Andy Dickens

Andy Dickens is a veteran of IT Sales, used to leading by example. He is the CEO of Virtual Sales Limited (VSL) who offer telesales, telemarketing, lead generation and appointment setting services to B2b businesses. He previously was Sales Director EMEA for Red Hat and before that ran sales at Visio before it was acquired by Microsoft.