New Business from Old Clients
As hard as companies work to solicit and serve customers,
it's surprising how little most businesses do to stay
in touch with those they once served so well. Many seem
to have the attitude that once a job is done, it's done;
once a product is sold, it's sold, and the relationship
with the customer is over.
That's short-term thinking. Former customers are the
best source for future sales, even in businesses where
customers make purchases only every few years. Satisfied
customers talk to others, so they're an important referral
source. It costs 2 to 40 times as much to acquire a customer
as it does to keep one. So once you've got one, don't
It's best if you develop an ongoing customer communication
program. But don't wait for that if you need money in
the cash register now.
To get started on a contact program:
- Make a list. Take a few hours to compile a
list of all former customers or clients -- go back at
least five years. But don't stop there. Add anyone who
has been -- or might be -- a source of referrals: industry
colleagues, suppliers, friends, even some relatives.
- Select contact methods. Phone calls are a simple,
personal, and effective way to touch base, and it's
harder for someone to ignore your phone call than it
is an email or a letter. Of course, calling takes time,
so you may want to limit that to only your most likely
prospects. E-mail can also be effective if you make
your email personal rather than seeming like spam. The
key is to be as personal as possible.
- Figure out what to say. You don't need a specific
reason to contact a former customer. You can tell them
the truth, "it's been a while since we've talked,
and I'm just touching base. I wanted to see how you've
been and if there's anything I can do for you."
You'll probably get more sales, however, if you make
a specific offer, especially with a significant discount.
One caution: if you haven't been in contact with someone
for a long time, find out what's going on with them
before making a sales pitch; their situation may have
changed considerably. With referral sources and other
contacts, tell them you're touching base to see how
they're doing and to see if they know of anyone who
might need your products or services.
- Determine how ambitious you want to be. Two
Web site designers each wanted to generate some new
business and decided to get in touch with old contacts.
Jennifer phoned one former client. Mark sent out a mass
e-mail to over 8,000 names, and got some angry anti-spam
responses as well as a few inquiries. I suspect you'll
find a happy medium between these two extremes.
From: RhondaWorks | April 2002 By: Rhonda Abrams
Rhonda Abrams is the author of The Successful Business
Organizer, Wear Clean Underwear, and The Successful Business
Plan: Secrets & Strategies.