Man on phone selling and smiling

This week has been somewhat frustrating in the Jones household. It all started when I noticed that the butter I got out of the fridge was slightly softer than usual. I put it down to the hot weather. After all, the outside thermometer in the back garden was reading 34 degrees. However, I had to re-evaluate my thinking when I noticed the kitchen floor near the fridge was rather wet. You guessed it – the fridge/freezer had broken.

So, I called a local company that provides engineers for domestic appliances and booked an appointment. The next day, though, my wife Cathy was trying to make the washing machine work, and all it would do was to flash its lights at her.

I phoned the engineer and said, “You know you are coming to repair my fridge, but can you do washing machines as well?”

Luckily the engineer can fix any domestic machines, so he will repair the fridge and washing machine on the same day next week. And guess what, I only have to pay one-and-a-half call-out charges. Hang on, what did you say?

It was an easy sale for him – a “discount” to an existing customer. All that was happening was the age-old maxim that it is easier to get more money out of a current client than to get a new customer to fork out their cash.

I told this story to a friend of mine as we were chatting about the current state of business, in the wake of the COVID-induced recession. The conversation got onto talking about a mutual contact who had changed the kind of work he was doing as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. My friend said, “It’s not such a great feat for him. All he had to do was email his existing clients as he has a massive mailing list.”

Whether it’s this contact and his recent business diversion or the domestic goods engineer who sold me another call-out, the situation is the same. Selling to an existing client is always easier than trying to get a new one.

You knew that, of course. It’s cheaper too to get an existing client to pay for something than it is to fund a marketing campaign to attract new clients. It may be old-fashioned and a rather basic method of selling, but tapping into your network of existing customers is going to pay dividends during a recession.

Yet, only the other day I was asked by a business owner just what kind of social media activity would bring them more clients. There appears to be a desire for finding new customers, often ignoring the people who already like a business and would, therefore, be happy to carry on supporting them, given half a chance.

There are two main ways you can gain further income from existing clients. First, you can sell them something which is a step up from what they have already from you. For instance, if you have sold them a one-month consultancy service, you could offer them a quarterly “pack” of service appointments. Or, if you have sold a client an online training event, you could offer them the option of all your training courses on video. There is always a way to provide a product or service at a “higher tier” than the one bought initially. Because the clients have already purchased the lower-grade item, it is a “no brainer” to buy the further option from you.

The second way of gaining income from existing clients is to sell them products and services that enhance or complement what you have already sold to them. If you’ve sold them a car, offer them the option to buy vouchers for car washes, for instance. And if you don’t have access to these additional products and services you can always sign up as an affiliate seller such a being on the Amazon Associates programme.

We are in the deepest recession ever seen. It’s seven-times bigger than the previous recession of 2008, which took us five years to emerge. So, whatever is going to happen in the coming months and years, finding new customers is going to be tough; really tough. That means if you want to survive the inevitable difficulties, one way is going back to the basics of selling and making the most of your existing clients.