Late payment practices continue to adversely affect UK small businesses and self-employed...
Reliable revenue is the lifeblood of any business. However, you can't rely on the same group of existing clients forever. So how do you encourage new customers to come back and start buying regularly from you?
- Know your customers. Your existing clients are likely to share similar characteristics. Understanding what those characteristics are will help you to locate similar prospects. Find out why people stay loyal to your business and use this to plan a strategy to turn new purchasers into valuable repeat business.
- Use your CRM effectively. When somebody buys from you for the first time, ensure you capture their details and buying preferences. Make sure that you can look up their previous purchase when they come back or when you contact them again.
- Each client has a preferred mode of contact or buying channel - telephone, online or face to face, for example. Make the customer feel valued by tailoring the marketing you use accordingly.
- Aim your marketing at repeat business. Avoid only marketing to existing clients. Plan a regular approach to one-off clients or other cold leads by highlighting offers or special discounts for returning customers.
- Make it easy for people to buy from you again. An easy-to-navigate website, courteous staff, hassle-free payments - make sure buying from you is smooth and simple every time. Check what the competition is doing and improve on their experience.
- Take an objective look at your existing sales strategy. Does your current approach work for turning occasional clients into regular purchasers? If not, adopt a more focused strategy and re-evaluate progress and success in six months. Check what has worked and what hasn't.
- Conduct some simple market research on what competitors charge for similar products - are your prices too high and putting people off? Or are they too low, with the result that customers fail to recognise the true value? Adjust charges and prices if necessary.
- Don't forget to up-sell or cross-sell. If people are willing to buy from you in the first place, you should consider up-selling, by offering upgrades or higher-priced alternatives. Then cross-sell by checking if the new customer is aware of extras and add-ons that may complement their purchase.
- Offer first-class customer aftercare. For queries and complaints, offer customer service that is second to none - and use it to stay in touch with clients and their needs. While new customers will ideally not have to use it, remind them that it's there and offer testimonials of satisfied clients that have used it.