It takes far less effort, time, and money to keep an existing client than secure a new one. Yet getting customers to buy over and over again still presents a challenge for many professionals. To address this, I spoke with two colleagues who have excellent track records when it comes to growing their businesses through existing customers.
Alex: You both have built an impressive following of loyal customers over the last several years. What’s your secret?
Christine: I’ve made providing quality content and inspiring information my priority rather than making money or building a platform. Being relatable to and vulnerable with my audience has created deeper connections to my customers. They feel like they know me, so they want to be loyal. Also, by starting with a specific niche I was able to establish a solid base of customers on whom I could depend once I decided to expand.
Alex: Talking B2B, once you’ve gotten a customer to buy a product or service, how do you get them to buy from you again?
Lindsey: First and most important is letting clients know I appreciate their business. I like to send thank you notes and (appropriate) gifts. I make phone calls the day after an event or project has ended to show my gratitude. I invite clients to any live or virtual events I can, including webinars, events, or seminars that I think they might find valuable.
I also communicate regularly with existing clients through a monthly e-newsletter and interaction on LinkedIn and Twitter. When it comes to social media, I find that engaging with the content my clients are posting is more important than posting my own content.
Finally, I’m always happy to chat with a client about a problem their organization is having or recommend another consultant if they have an issue unrelated to my work. It’s about being of service and genuinely helping them as much as possible.
Alex: What is a mistake you’ve seen others make when trying to build repeat business?
Christine: The biggest mistake is not asking customer for feedback. You have to engage with them while they are using your product or service and find out what they’re thinking. Another mistake is a failure to up level products and services. In order to generate repeat business, the next offer or product needs to be in place.
Lindsey: In my opinion, the biggest mistake is pitching a client strongly before asking what the need is. For example, for a keynote client it would be a mistake to start selling them on another keynote when what they really want next is consulting. Listen, listen, listen.
Alex: What’s a good way to operationalize customer relations so you don’t have to always be remembering to follow up, etc.?
Christine: Auto-responders that come from my personal email work very well for me. A client gets “tagged” when buying a product or service. Then, a feedback email goes out and takes them to a quick survey. Since the message is from my personal email, customers often send direct responses and comments to me. With higher purchase services, I either set auto reminders on my calendar to call the client personally or have a member of my team call and follow up.
Speaking of repeat business, both Christine and Lindsey have new books this month. For guidance on how to cope with disappointment, check out Christine’s Expectation Hangover, and for advice for millennials moving into their first leadership roles, have a look at Lindsey’s Becoming the Boss.
//Posted in Team & Project Management | Tagged client relations, Collaboration, communication, CRM, customers, efficiency, emotional intelligence, entrepreneurship, feedback, productivity, relationships, social media, troubleshooting