Countless studies have proven that it's generally six to eight times more expensive to attract a new customer than to sell more product or service to an existing customer. Why, then, do so many view sales as a linear process which ends when the sale is closed?
Unless you sell a product or service that your typical customer only buys once in a lifetime, the customer sales cycle is perpetual. Think of it as a never-ending circle that begins by establishing the relationship, followed by assessing and offering customized solutions to a customer's needs, and then closing and delivering on what was promised.
As soon as you've begun delivering your product or service, the cycle begins again. Take a proactive approach to continue growing that relationship, learning about new needs your customer may develop as their business evolves, and educating them about your product and service offering where applicable. Expecting them to remember your complete offering just isn't realistic.
To continue to grow relationships, be consistent with your service, ensuring that you're quick to return calls and emails. Find ways to offer added value -- beyond what you're contracted to offer. For example, ask your customer what an ideal prospect looks like for their company, and then offer them a connection of yours.
Likewise, when you uncover a source of frustration that's outside of your offer, find a way to solve it anyway. Utilizing your connections to help a customer navigate through a challenge when you have nothing to gain sends a message that you care about them and not just the sale. Do this consistently and they'll see you as part of their internal team -- a trusted consultant versus an outside salesperson.
Consider scheduling lunch with key customers semi-annually to inquire about how your firm is delivering, their satisfaction, and any areas for improvement they'd recommend. Relish any opportunities to improve uncovered as a chance to strengthen your relationship.
This lunch meeting is also an ideal platform for inquiring about their changing business needs and any solutions you may have to meet those needs. Lastly, assuming their satisfaction level with your organization is strong, take this opportunity to brainstorm with your customer about prospects for which they may be willing to refer you. Reciprocate by brainstorming about valuable relationships you have may have to offer them.
In addition to relationship building and satisfaction-check meetings, it's also essential to deploy a variety of less heavy-handed marketing strategies designed to keep your brand top-of-mind such as email marketing, social media, public relations and direct marketing.
Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and CEO/Founder of RedRover Sales & Marketing in Memphis, TN, www.redrovercompany.com. You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (facebook.com/redrovercompany).