6. Making Friends

Create Happy Customers and You’ll Win in Sales

Once you get to the final stage of selling, you’ve already made a new customer friend. Sometimes it’s easy to discount the importance of this stage, because you already reached your goal. But if your goal is just to get the sale and move on, you are doing your business a disservice. Turning that new sale into a long-term happy customer will mean that all that hard work you did to get the sale will turn into profits and maybe even friendship for years to come. You don’t want to play a numbers game with sales. Leave that to those other guys. Instead of forcing sales through a funnel, your goal is to draw the right people in. The right people are those who buy from you, love your product and service, buy again and again, and bring their friends! To get more of these people to stick around, you need great customer service.

What Is This?

This is all the great stuff you do with your customers after they have become your customers. This involves customer service, customer surveys, additional education, selling them new products, getting product feedback, or just interacting with them in social media.

Why Should You Do It?

Your existing customers are a terrific source of product feedback, new product testing, referrals to new customers, and just plain inspiration. Understanding how they are using your product, what is working for them and what isn’t, how they’ve creatively solved roadblocks, and what they love most about your message is vital to continuing to perfect your product and your entire sales process. This is an ongoing journey of discovery for both you and your customers as you work to solve problems and come up with the right solutions together.

The number one way to generate referrals is to be more referable.  Have a great customer experience.

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How Do You Do It?

Get an A+ in Customer Service

Customers are so cool, aren’t they? These people actually pay you money to do what you (hopefully) love to do. So, do you really value your customers?

Maybe we should start with a question that’s a bit more selfish. Do you know what value your customers add to your business? In general, you know that customers are good. They pay you in money, and money keeps the lights on and the kids fed. But to truly understand the value of the customer, you really need to get your shovel out and dig a little deeper.

Find Your LTV

Each of your customers has something called a “lifetime value,” or LTV. This is the amount of value (revenue) that a customer provides over time to your business. You know in your heart the intangible value your customers provide, but numbers can be interesting here too.

Across your whole business, you have an average LTV. Maybe your average customer makes three purchases from you valued at $100 each. Then your average LTV would be $300.

Getting a sense of your average LTV will help you better understand how valuable each customer is, revenue-wise. You can also look at LTV by customer segment to find out which types of customers are best long-term for your business. Hint: it may not always be the obvious answer.

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Keep the Flame Alive

Besides being directly valuable in terms of immediate revenue, your current customers are also your most valuable source of leads for future business. Not only can they come back and buy again, but they can tell their friends how great you are!

So, how do you keep them interested in what you are doing, even after they buy?

Have a Follow-Up Plan

Similar to your sales process, you should have a plan for following up with “past” customers. This follow-up likely won’t be as intensive as the sales process, but it should provide you a way to stay in front of customers so they remember to come back and buy more and to recommend your business to their peeps.

There are a lot of things you can follow up with, including:
  • Helpful newsletter that provides relevant information
  • Customer loyalty program
  • Links to articles you think customers will find helpful
  • Invitations to events
  • Holiday or birthday cards/gifts/discounts

And, of course, you may sell something that needs to be serviced or bought again. Whether you have yearly, monthly, or even daily things for people to buy, obviously previous customers should continue to be thought of as new leads, so don’t ignore them in your sales process. In addition to staying in touch, plan for more specific sales outreach at the right time. Schedule it so you don’t forget it!

Using Your CRM

Staying in touch with past customers is important, but it’s one of those things that seems to get de-prioritized as other pressing matters creep up. Having a plan will help combat that a bit, but it also helps if you have good tools. The main tool you need is a small business CRM.

Use your CRM to bring together all of the information you have about your new customer. This includes data you picked up in the leads stage, detailed information from the follow up stage, and a history of interactions with customer service and billing. This full history will help you improve your relationship  by showing you what to focus on when you talk next, what products they may be interested in buying again, and whether or not they are likely to refer their friends.

CRM helps you make happy customers by:

  • Helping you make sure you have fulfilled every promise and completed every task
  • Making it easy to see customer preferences prior to future interactions
  • Giving you ways to segment customers so you can personalize ongoing marketing efforts
  • Showing you who your best customers are in terms of sales, testimonials, good will, etc.

What Not To Do

This is the start of a beautiful friendship. Don’t skimp on the opportunity to make it a fulfilling experience for both you and your new customer.

  • Don’t neglect your new friend – You may feel that once someone has bought your product and it’s been delivered, they are all good to go on happily enjoying its great benefits. But educating your existing customers on new features, creative uses or even known problems with your product will keep them using it longer and recommending it more often.
  • Don’t go cheap on service – You should spend more of your company resources on your customer service efforts than you do on your sales efforts. It is a better use of your resources, makes for happier customers and improves the world.