With the US economy on life support mode, your business should be thinking “outside the box” with a variety of strategies to survive, grow and prosper. This is important since the US economy is in a long-term, structural recession, implying that business growth will likely come from a combination of increased revenue per existing customer and taking business away from the competition. It is not likely that the “economic pie” will grow substantionally (1-2% per annum), forcing businesses to adopt an eat thy neighber mentality or be eaten first.
Let´s start with existing customers, the hanging fruit. Whether they purchase a little or a lot from your business, you probably need to “touch” them with more frequency and tell them how much you love them. They are keeping you and your employees with paychecks and keeping the lights on. It is pretty rare that a customer will say “Man, abc company is always contacting me about something, I wish they would take a break.” If your business has gotten that type of feedback, congratulations, you´re probably one of the first and you can mark that customer´s file as “contacted enough”, for a while. Remember your customers are what your competition is hunting for, to woo, to begin dancing with, to consumate, to get a first purchase. to get a second purchase, to get your business thrown out of the account. Face it, your competition wants to eat your lunch by getting your customers. So, you better protect your customers by reminding them all the time why they are so important to your company and why your company is best for them, now and in the future.
But we haven´t discussed how you contact your existing customers, or why you haven´t been loving them to death as you should. Yes, we know that most businesses are too busy focusing on getting new customers, but that is really an excuse for not prioritizing resources to leverage the current customer base. Since your current customers have names, addresses and telephone numbers, its prudent to start with the basics. Send them a note (regular mail or fax has more impact but an Email will also suffice) or make a telephone call letting them know that their business is appreciated. Let them know about something new about your company´s products or services and ASK THEM them if is there anything that your company could do to improve the relationship with them and then listen. Amazing what the human voice will discern that a chat, tweet, an Email will not provide.
So your time and resources are limited to make this outgoing touching excercise? Then hire a call-center outsourcing company to do this under your direction. The cost versus benefit is easily justified. As an example, assume that your company has 1000 custromers, an average sale is $500, with a 30% margin and via an outbound telemarketing campaign you increase sales 5% within a 30 day period. This corresponds to $25,000 in additional revenue (1000 x 0.05 x $500) and $7,500 in gross profit ($25,000 x .3). However, if you have a longer view of your marketing investment, some percentage of those existing customers that you “touched” will make purchasing decisions with a 3 to 6 month timeframe. Also, you will likely lose less customers to your competition (remember they are out there all the time trying to find the crumbs of where you last ate your lunch), since your customers have you positioned in a positive, warm and fuzzy light.
Remember all those existing customers that did not purchase in that initial 30 days? That is, the 95% that were not sufficiently motivated or needed to make a purchasing decision at that time? If you planned well, you also took the time to ask them for a referral, that is a potential new customer. This is probably the least expensive means of prospecting for new customers and one of the most effective since there is tremendous credibility when you subsequently do the not so cold, cold call. Don´t want to do the cold call at this stage? Ok, then hire the call-center outsourcing company to do the follow up cold call and simply pass back to you the “hot leads” for your internal staff to close. By the way, these potential new customers are some of the crumbs left behind by your competition where they last ate lunch.
What are you having for lunch tomorrow?