Think how many ways you can lose a customer!
Liquidation, acquisition, merger, economic environment, withdrawal from certain types of expenditure, being taken for granted, fouling up on what it is the customer wanted - the list is almost endless. Think how many ways you currently use to obtain the next customer - for life, or do you wait for it to happen or worse still bemoan the fact that customers aren't beating a path to your door. Advertising may be expensive and it isn't the only way of finding new customers...
Target your next new customer
Think for a moment who your ideal customer is and would be. What attributes and characteristics will they have that you will appreciate"(They may think the same way about you!)
Divide these characteristics into "pre-requisite", "essential", "desirable" and "optional", or if you like, "must have", "should have", "can have", "may have". Weight them and score them. 40% for the top category, 30% for the next, 20% for the third and 10% for the last. Score your best client, score your worst client and now you have a benchmark programme for determining who is worthwhile investing in to become your next most important customer.
If they score 80+ you can't afford not to offer your products and services to them. If they score 40 or less it's probably better for you to say "no" or not bother. If you then stack up these prospective customers under the general headings of suspects, targets, prospects and then work hard at making them confirmed customers, you'll always have a steady stream of customers to aim for and to obtain in order to support your growth plans and to maintain your current levels of profitable business.
Link your marketing with sales
This takes care of finding and securing new customers. It's then equally important to have a disciplined sales programme to ensure that they know all about you and are positively inclined to buy from you. After all you need to be their first choice or preferred choice supplier of the products and services they require - nowhere else counts.
If it costs $5 a letter and $50 a call and $500 a presentation and your enquiry conversion ratio is only 1 in 3, you could easily be spending in excess of $1,665 to acquire each new customer (on the basis of the figures I've used above).
If this provides you with a lifetime customer value, it's a good investment. If on the other hand, it's a single sale, you may be better off without them!
Where's your next best opportunity to secure a new sale?
Ask your existing clients, after all they are likely to introduce you to like-minded businesses with similar characteristics and values as they have. If you've provided extra service and really good products, they are likely to act as your unpaid sales ambassadors.
Do you have formal referral systems to ensure that your reputation is endorsed and multiplied by what existing customers already think of you? It's easier to get a cannibal to eat his second missionary, than a missionary to eat his first cannibal! Capitalise upon this bank of positive and favourable impressions and regularly ask your existing clients to recommend you to new customers. Recognise them for what they do, thank them for what they've done and reassure them that they still remain your first choice or preferred choice, just as you remain theirs!
10 Formal Referral Systems (Use no more than 3 at a time!)
1. Obtain and use written endorsements from satisfied clients
2. On final completion of each sale - ask for a referral
3. Track movement of personnel - they may continue to buy from you
4. As an agenda item at every meeting - focus on more business
5. Upon rejection of any potential purchase - to do better next time
6. In casual, face to face and telephone discussion
7. Making it easier for referral agencies to introduce us - give them reasons to introduce you
8. Where are they now? - find old customers to buy from you again
9. From research information - targeting similar businesses to your existing customers
10. What makes us special? - make sure your customers know why!