Grow Your Business - Sell More to Your Existing Customers
The easiest way to increase your sales is to get your existing customer to buy more. You do this by satisfying more of their needs, and by better salesmanship.
This is the second article of a three part marketing series on how to make your business grow. The first article talked about holding your customers by concentrating on improving customer satisfaction. Now that you've got a stable group of customers its time to sell them more.
The other two companion articles are titled:
- Customer Satisfaction, the Key to Business Growth
- Developing New Customers, the Lifeblood of Business Growth
You have built your base of customers by means of your sales people, your place of business, your products, service, or your own personality. Your customers are comfortable doing business with you. They are in the habit of giving you their orders.
But are you taking advantage of the opportunity to sell more to these existing customers? You will undermine our growth potential if you miss this opportunity.
How do you get your customers to buy more from you? If he needs one pair of shoes can you really sell him two? If he needs a color copier can you sell him a second one? The answer to both questions is "sometimes yes." More often the answers lies just beyond the obvious. You may need to step back and take a fresh look at your customers' needs in order to find ways to boost your sales.
It's important to tell your customers about all of the products and services you sell. I'll bet many of your customers have never been told about all the things you have for sale. Many others have been told but have forgotten. Your customer's newer employees may not even recognize your company name.
Some businesses are masters of reminding their customers of all that they sell. Take your local supermarket for instance. The next time you go there for a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread pay attention to what happens. You'll find yourself all the way back at the far corner for milk, and then at the opposite end for bread. Why?
While shopping for milk and bread you'll make a complete tour of the store. You'll be reminded of all the things you can get there.
If you call on your customers at their place of business be sure to remind them of our full product line. Show them your catalog and samples. This way you'll be sure they know and remember who you are and what you do.
Sometimes showing and telling them about your full product line is not enough. They still may not buy more from you. When this happens it's time to do some simple research to find out what's wrong.
Ask your customers why they're not buying certain items. You can do this in person, over the telephone, or by a mail questionnaire. You may discover a problem with your pricing, quality, brand assortment, or product features. When you find out what the problem is, take steps to correct it.
The following is an actual case history.
A high end men's clothing store was very successful in selling men's suits. However, its sales of accessories were well below industry norms. They asked their customers why they didn't buy the accessories. "I don't like your ties." Said one customer. This proved to be the problem. A poor line of ties sunk the whole accessory business, costing the store thousands in lost profits. The problem was solved and accessory sales soared.
You can often build sales by adding new items to your line. Pick items that will appeal to your existing customers. This works especially well if the new items complement your other lines.
You can also use salesmanship to promote your higher quality products. Do you offer a "good," "better," and "best" version of the same product. You can often sell the better and best items simply by pointing out the extra quality and features. Usually these higher end items carry a higher profit margin.
This approach also works when the basic products can be outfitted with optional accessories. Of course, automobile dealers are the masters of this technique. The "base sticker price" may get you into the showroom, but you will usually come out with something "better." Often the options provide most of the dealer profit margin.
Recently I purchased a new PowerPoint projector. The salesman sold me a spare bulb and a new screen to go with it. The extra effort required to sell the bulb and screen was minimal, once I had made my decision on the projector.
Sometimes you can get your customers to use more of your product. One way to do this is to point out its many uses.
Producers of canned goods provide recipe ideas on the outside of the package. The recipes are intended to suggest additional and more varied uses for the product thereby increasing consumption.
This approach also works for a service business. Insurance salesmen may suggest larger policies or broader coverage. A cleaning contractor may suggest more frequent cleaning.
You can also increase your sales potential by augmenting your products with extra service.
At one time the only way for the homeowner to buy fertilizer was by the bag at the hardware or garden store. Now it is possible to buy your fertilizer installed from Chemlawn, and other companies that provide the complete service.
Yet another approach is to help your customers sell more of your products. This is frequently done at retail. Manufacturers and distributors provide retailers with point of sale material, coop ad allowances, and in-store merchandising support. These programs help sell more product.
Similarly, manufacturers of industrial products or materials help solve technical and applications problems so that product usage will increase.
DuPont provides extensive technical support and assistance service aimed at helping their customers. The result is that these customers find new ways to utilize DuPont chemicals and plastics.
The easiest way for you to increase your sales is to sell more to your existing customers. To do this, take a fresh look at your customer's needs. Add products and services to your line in order to meet more of those needs. Use improved sales techniques to keep your customer informed and encourage additional sales.