Customer Experience News & Trends

6 ways to sell more to existing customers

Research by The Alexander Group shows that salespeople seriously underpenetrate their existing customer base, as they focus on finding new customers. They forget that the fastest way to build sales is to focus on penetration.

Perform a self-test

Analyze your sales over the past year and calculate what percentage of your sales comes from each of these categories:

  • Repeat orders (retention)?
  • New accounts (conversion)?
  • Selling new products and services to existing customers (penetration)?

Keep mining

It’s not enough to tell yourself to push harder to make sales to existing customers. You’ll do better by developing specific strategies for increasing penetration.

For instance, ask yourself to:

  • Come up with a plan for expanding your pool of contacts within major accounts
  • Identify products or services that an existing customer could buy but doesn’t, and
  • Estimate the total potential of key accounts, including what they buy from you and the competition.

Consider these ideas

Here are some more tactics that will help you build your business through current customers:

  1. Keep trying to add value. Listen carefully and watch for any clues that indicate new ways you can add value. Ask about new products or services coming in the months ahead, branch offices opening up, or even new people in key positions. Each of these situations presents opportunities to help the customers achieve goals.
  2. Try to get creative. It’s natural to focus on what customers are doing inside the four walls of their offices or factories. But here’s another way to look at them: Chances are your customer buys from suppliers or sells to customers that can use your products or services as well. Find creative ways your current customer would benefit from introducing you to other companies in the supply chain. A specific purpose helps take the conversation beyond lamely asking, “Do you know anyone I can call on?”
  3. Make customers feel they have an “inside track.” When you get wind of new products or services your company is planning to offer, find ways to let the customer in on it or give them a sneak peek (without revealing confidential information, of course). It’s human nature to want to feel like an insider.
  4. Get plugged into your customer’s network. Most customers are active in industry trade associations and read industry trade periodicals. If their line of business represents fertile sales ground for you, consider joining the same associations and subscribing to the same periodicals they read. A genuine shared interest will serve as common ground that can lead to valuable introductions to other industry players you can call on.
  5. Upgrade the quality of your referrals. When you identify a clear benefit to them, customers are more likely to go beyond just giving you a name or phone number to call. See if they will write a letter of introduction or pave the way for you with a telephone call. Some may be willing to give you a “guided tour” of the Rolodex on their desk or share details about the prospect.
  6. Understand the critical role of trust. Customers are bombarded with so much conflicting and contradictory product information, the element of trust has become the indispensable ingredient for increasing sales to present customers. Typically, trust advances between buyer and seller in small steps over time and not in a big win. So constantly look for things you can do that advance the level of trust. On the surface, these look like small favors and come as the result of doing something special for a customer. They tell customers that you are looking out for his or her interests beyond just the sales transaction. On a deeper emotional level, these actions tell a customer that he or she is more than another transaction to you.

Source: A research study from The Alexander Group, Atlanta, GA.

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