Posted by: drewdice | March 30, 2010

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

You’ve heard it said many times: it is “cheaper to keep ’em”, meaning, it is less costly to keep your existing customers happy than it is to continuously go out and find new customers.

Run the numbers, analyze your customer data, look at the marketing and trend reports. It will all lead you back to the same conclusion. Does this mean that organizations should not have a concerted, proactive and consistent effort to enroll new customers? Absolutely not. There are always new prospective customers who match the values and culture of our organizations and who desperately need our help to improve their business performance.

What it does mean, though, is each of us can find benefit in looking at why existing customers don’t buy more from us (notice, I did not say “why we don’t sell more to our existing customers”). Here are some things to consider along the path to having better, more mutually profitable relationships with existing customers:

What have you done for them lately? Be honest. Past responding to a hot or urgent need, what have you really done that shows you in their camp, truly understanding their business challenges, and that you are thinking of them 24/7? This could be as simple as finding an article that you think they would enjoy, and sending it to them with a personalized note.

Take an objective view of the relationship. Are you a true advocate, consultant and business partner to them, or are you a problem solver? One way to know is with this simple test: When you are not in the midst of helping them solve a hot issue, do you call them with something of value to discuss (not, just “checking in” to see if they need anything)? Do they call you? Do you sometimes notice that you place multiple calls before they call you back?

Are you a connector for them? One of the biggest things you can do for your customers is give them what they need (or, at least access to it), even when it doesn’t directly or immediately serve your needs. Some business people are selfish with their relationships, and do not want to introduce new connections into their business relationships for fear of potentially losing sales, money and the relationship. In my opinion, a relationship based on this mindset of scarcity will lead to one thing and one thing only: a weak relationship that never reaches full potential. You’ll miss opportunities to build a bond, build business directly, as well as through referrals.

Think always about your customer first, what she needs to achieve more in her business, and you’ll see your relationships (professional and personal) transform.

Please share some of your experiences (good and bad) on this topic. I’d love to hear your stories!




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