6 tips on generating more sales from existing customers

When it comes to marketing, buzzwords that seasoned salespeople are all too familiar with always seem to be popping up: customer loyalty used to be called customer retention, upselling was an additional purchase, while good old customer service is now known as after sales management.

Be honest, you’re rolling your eyes now, too, aren’t you? That’s okay – as long as you’ve understood why marketing has to repeatedly sell itself these terms, as it were: quite simply, they’re incredibly important.

„Your success, that of your business, indeed of entire companies and even industries, depends to a significant extent on existing customers.“

Hand on heart – how high would you say the share of the turnover generated by existing customers is? And when was the last time you checked this? In Europe, statistics tell us that one existing customer is worth as much as seven new customers – yes, SEVEN. For licence-based software such as ours, it’s not unrealistic to generate up to 40% of annual sales from software maintenance, i.e. from existing customers, even during periods of market expansion.

In the battle for market share, which is traditionally waged via the acquisition of new customers, this fact is often overlooked. This results in unsatisfactory situations, like the mobile phone provider XY whose new customers get the brand-new smartphone as a bonus at a super-attractive rate, while you, the long-standing customer – almost as a reward for your loyalty – are stuck with the old model, have to pay more and get less in return.

It’s obvious how little business sense this approach makes, especially since the existing customer is, for other reasons, much more attractive than the potential new customer:

  • A business relationship, which includes all their contact details, already exists.
  • They can be contacted with offers at any time without legal sanction, and
  • have hopefully already built up trust in your performance.

So, whether a provider listed at charges a few euros less for the same product no longer has any bearing on the sale being made. Often the customer won’t even search any further; they already know what you have and will simply order from you. And even if they have also installed and integrated other software alongside yours, the “normative power of the factual”, i.e. the fact they’re familiar with your product, helps almost automatically with customer retention.

Use this to your advantage and run periodic EXISTING CUSTOMER CAMPAIGNS.

Are you now motivated to give your existing customers the attention they deserve?

Let's do it!

Here are six important tips that will keep your existing customers happy and the tills ringing:

1. Stay in touch.

When it comes to the customer base, proximity is capital. Make this work for you, because, just like monetary capital, it loses value when it’s not really doing anything. Use every reasonable opportunity to contact your customers: send a newsletter, an email, call them, drop by when you’re in the area. But get the balance right – make sure that your information is targeted, represents added value for your customers – and no annoying spamming. Read on for tips on how to do this.

Ideal opportunities are topics that are dominating the media, like right now for example:

Trending topic: GDPR / compliance deadline May 25th, 2018 - what can WLAN hotspot operators expect?

2. Coordinate your actions.

Create an attractive campaign for your topic. You know how it goes – traditionally, you write an email, which you send to specific recipients. The email contains a so-called call to action – an element that allows the customer to react immediately if they are interested, to get more detailed information, to arrange an appointment or even to place an order straightaway.

CAUTION: The call to action must be appropriate to the offer. Are you launching a high-price product that requires explanation? Then it probably makes little sense to place a “Buy now” button right at the top of the email. Perhaps you prefer to go with “Request advice”. If it’s a moderately priced upgrade or ad-on to an existing product, “Order now” may be a good option. But make sure that the button leads to a landing page on which the product, with its price indicated, is on offer and ready to order, because after clicking on a call to action like this, customers will rarely spend a long time using search filters to wade through confusing online shop webpages, but will simply expect that you now understand what they’re interested in.

If the sale is made on a one-to-one basis instead of in the online shop, it’s worth adding a mailto link to the button. Most word processing programs can do this. Remember to add an appropriate subject line to the email form to create a clear association between the email and the campaign. Add a short request to the text, for example “Yes, I’d like to know more about the Privacy Toolkit, please contact me!”

3. Don't waste time.

After this, you should get a few responses explicitly asking to make an appointment in person. Handle these immediately – once the customer has made a decision, you shouldn’t waste this positive momentum.

TIP from the field: It’s astonishing how many buying signals are frequently overlooked/ignored or disregarded for so long by sales teams that the customer loses interest or buys elsewhere. Don’t make this mistake – always react IMMEDIATELY to active requests – stay ahead of the competition!

4. Be consistent.

And what about all the recipients who don’t get back to you? After an appropriate period of time, neither too long nor too short (between three and five days is ideal), call all the recipients who have not responded again. You’ve put a lot of effort into the email and the presentation of the offer, and it shouldn’t go to waste. If colleagues complain that two-thirds of the effort is wasted anyway, they just don’t know which two-thirds, stay calm. That’s nothing more than an excuse for inaction. You can easily turn the relationship around if you act purposefully and consistently enough. As the saying goes – “no pain, no gain!”

5. Don't be afraid of emotions.

What has emotion got to do with digital business? More than you might think. You are of course more likely to annoy people than create a romantic mood by talking about the GDPR, for example. Nevertheless, you should keep talking – because annoyance is also an emotion that will help you to sell. While your competitor is maintaining a seemingly dignified silence, “because no one’s listening anyway”, sit back and watch the orders coming in. Because the general levels of nervousness guarantee that none of your customers has forgotten what comes into effect on May 25th. You just need to be there for them when they decide to do something “now”, so they don’t have to be afraid of negative consequences. Fear, too, is ultimately emotion. 

Be creative, even provocative or ironic - but, whatever you do, make sure that you arouse emotions.

Exploit the full potential of this topic, whether on the phone or in the text of the email:

The GDPR comes into effect on May 25th, 2018 - do you know how much you could be finer for breaching it? How prepared are you for May 25th? - What if some wise guy comes along on May 26th and asks you about the data you hold on him, to whom it is disclosed and how he can have it deleted? - Or do you enjoy lining privacy lawyers' pockets?

6. Be an advisor and an expert for your customers.

Especially in the B2B sector, your customers expect expertise. Never miss an opportunity to shine as an expert in your field. That does mean work, because you have to do your research, keep up to date with everything and always have a good overview of what’s happening. But it is worth it and feels good, too – the more you know about your industry and/or niche, the more confident you’ll be with your customers and the more welcome your visits and offers will be. And all this will be reflected in a noticeable increase in sales.

That's why you should gather as much information as you can, keep an eye on your competitors and be there for your customers. For a good overview of our GDPR topic, see here.

Use these 6 tips to make your existing customer campaigns even more successful. Be sure to monitor their progress and document their success. It will enable you to understand which measures are successful and apply them to other activities.

Good luck!
The Asteas Sales Training Team

Find helpful tips on new customer acquisition here:
6 tips for generating new acquisitions
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