How to sell more to your retail customers

A POS terminalWhile many organisations work hard at chasing and seducing new customers they risk missing the opportunity to grow by increasing the value of existing customers

The good thing about encouraging the customers you already have to use more of your products or services is that it need not cost much money. Just use every bit of the 'brand' that touches your customers from packaging to your website, from manufacturing to customer service people. Use it not just as a promotional tool but to actively promote usage.

The first way of growing business from existing customers is to keep them interested in your product or service.

Why bother with existing customers?

1. Achieve better conversion than with new customers

This is because trust and confidence has already been established and it is easier to identify customer's real needs - because you know something about them already. It is also non-competitive in as much they are already your customer, to some degree, and you are not trying to lure them from a competitor.

2. Lower cost of marketing

You'll spend less time finding them, less money as you are communicating what they want to hear (so there is less wasted effort), and less time convincing them that you are worth doing business with.

You'll also spend less on customer research - you may already have some positive feedback from them.

3. Make more profit

You'll spend less time getting up to speed with their needs and (usually) there'll be less pressure on the price that you charge (less discounts than you might use to attract new customers).

Your business operations become more efficient and effective as you know what customers need and you can use their loyalty to help train-up more juniors than you might with new customers. It may also be possible to get the customer to trade-up to other products or services - since they trust you. This is called higher leverage.

4. Increase product or service complexity

Your organisation needs to grow and develop to remain competitive so you may be able to do more complex work with existing customers; it is difficult to sell to new customers outside your established track record.

Sales techniques

Whenever an organisation is trying to interest a customer into buying an additional product or service, there's one thought going through the customer's mind: 'Why are you trying to sell me something?'

There are, of course, only two possible answers to this question. Either they believe you're really interested in their situation, and them, and have a sincere desire to help them, or else they believe you're just trying to generate additional revenues for your business. Whether or not your selling effort succeeds depends solely on which of these two things they believe about you. If they believe you're interested in them, that you care, and that you're truly trying to help them, they'll buy from you. The best way to sell is not to sell, but to care. Professionalism works!

The oldest saw in business - "Do good work and customers will come" - comes very close to the truth, as long as we recognise that the good work extends beyond the technical excellence of your product or service to encompass a true dedication to serving the customers' interests. The proof is in the pudding: If your customers aren't actively telling their friends about you, maybe your product (or, of course, your service) isn't as great as you think it is. Furthermore, if you aren't getting consistently great word-of-mouth from your existing customers, you're not ready to start marketing to new ones.

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