How to get more from your existing customers?

It always amazes me how eager we are as B2B marketers to prospect more while overlooking many productive ways to retain existing customers and sell them more.   After all, we invest a great deal to acquire a new customer, shouldn’t we do all we can to maximize our return by keeping and harvesting the customers we have?  I like to see B2B marketers spending at least as much to harvest their customers as they are spending to acquire new ones.  There are many ways we can increase our “share of wallet” from existing customers and improve our relationship and the resulting customer loyalty.   In fact, with our online marketing tools we have more ways than ever to stay connected to our customers and achieve that “top of mind” awareness and loyalty we crave.

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Make sure your inbound and outbound reps have a sales summary screen for each customer at the name and site level.  Ideally have it pop up immediately when the site or customer calls.  In one screen you want to summarize their spending trends by product category by year.  That way, your rep will quickly see where to go.
  2. Augment your traditional marketing (mailings, catalogs, telephone calls) with some of the new online interactive tools, videos and interactive technologies.  Think of all the ways your company can assist your customer in the area of his business that your products relate too.   If he is relying on your for informational assistance he will likely come back to you to purchase.
  3. What training or education needs of your customers can you assist with as it relates to the sale of your products?   Online videos, estimators, calculators, technology updates and a host of other tools help educate and inform your customers and keep them up to date on trends, changes and other valuable information needed to run their business.  What can you offer?
  4. Get personal with your customers.  Introduce your reps with video/audio so they can see and hear who will be looking after them.  Remember, people buy from people and the greater the relationship between your sales rep and your customer the more trust and loyalty and repeat purchase exists. 
  5. Position yourself as a helpful, problem solving, partner not just a supplier.  Once you have your customer coming to you for help solving a problem or meeting their internal objectives rather than just placing an order, you will have achieved a more productive relationship that will be harder for your competition to invade.
  6. Start a blog for each major customer segment of your business.  Use your authorative position to start a blog to encourage readership,  feedback and participation by your customer.   For example, if you sell electrical components you might start a blog targeted at the electrical engineers working in technology development.  If you sell office suppliers, start one about office organization and productivity.   If you sell to restaurants, how about a blog dealing with motivating restaurant employees?  You get the idea.

Finally, make sure you take an objective look at your retention and penetration performance.  Many companies assume they are getting the majority of a customers business but when they probe they often find out their share is miniscule.

Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services B2B catalog company clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at tjukes @ b2bdmi.com or (954) 383-5221

Comments or questions are welcome.

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