Repeat sales are the lifeblood of every sales organization. It’s cheaper and easier to sell to someone who has previously decided to buy from you, and the lifetime value of a loyal customer can be worth a great deal when you consider how many years you might sell to this customer.
But repeat sales don’t just “happen.” Most customers are loyal not out of habit, but because a dedicated sales person built up a trusting and productive business relationship over time.
Your sales team can deliberately create opportunities to generate more repeat sales by following these simple guidelines:
- Do your best: The #1 way to get more sales from a customer is to keep that customer happy. Keep your promises. Deliver an outstanding customer experience. Maintain rigorous quality standards. Make sure your customers are never disappointed and often delighted – any surprises for your customers should be pleasant surprises. If customers value your service and believe that you have their best interests at heart, they’ll be happy to keep giving you repeat sales.
- Thank the customer: Once you’ve made an initial sale, you can start the process of earning a repeat sale by simply saying “thank you” to the customer. Whether it’s a personal handwritten thank-you note or a more elaborate golf outing or dinner, find a way to show your company’s appreciation for the customer’s business. Make sure your way of thanking the customer is commensurate with the value of the customer’s business. If you just made a $50,000 sale that has the potential to grow into many years of lucrative deals, don’t be afraid to spend some money on thanking the customer and furthering the business relationship.
- Look for news on the customer’s company/industry: Show your customers that you’re always thinking about their business and looking for new ideas to bring to them. If you come across an article on best practices that can add value to the customer, send it their way, or if you hear of the company in the news for opening a new office, or getting a mention in an industry publication, just send them an e-mail, congratulating them. Set up Google Alerts for your customer’s company name, product name, and industry name. This is the quickest way to get frequent updates about the latest happenings in your customer’s industry.
- Build trust: Building trust is not just important during initial lead generation calls – it’s a constant process of reinforcing the relationship with the customer. Ways to build trust include ensuring quality of your products and solutions (so customers are never disappointed), managing details and meeting deadlines (so customers know they can count on you to deliver what they need), and being truthful about the limitations or shortcomings of your product (so customers know you won’t stretch the truth just to make a sale). Sometimes sales people can gain more long-term credibility with customers by not being afraid to mention the things that their solutions cannot do. If you have a product that’s not the right fit for the customer’s immediate situation, don’t be afraid to say so. Customers will trust you if they know you’re looking out for their best interests, instead of trying to close deals at all costs.
- Keep following up and looking for ways to help the customer: Often customers switch to a different vendor or supplier not because there’s something wrong with the product or solution itself, but because they don’t feel appreciated by their sales rep. The best way to ensure a steady stream of repeat sales is to keep following up with customers (even if they’re not actively ready to buy anything) just to demonstrate that you care about their business. Offer them new ideas and business intelligence about the industry. Keep them apprised of the latest changes going on at your company. If there are going to be price increases, production delays, or changes to product specifications, make sure that your customers hear it from you first. If you read an interesting article about your industry, share it with your customers – even if your organization didn’t publish it. Part of being an effective sales person is not only calling on customers when you’re ready to sell to them, but building an ongoing relationship where they come to see you as a trusted peer and colleague. Show your customers that you’re constantly thinking about their challenges and coming up with ways to help their businesses, and you’ll see more repeat sales.
Repeat sales can be one of the most efficient ways for your sales organization to generate more leads and boost your profits. But it doesn’t happen by accident. Your sales team needs to institute solid practices to build trusting relationships and keep offering valuable insights and information to your customers. A better client retention process in the long term means fewer efforts on b2b appointments setting need to be made to keep your revenue steady.
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