Small Business Sales Advice: Mining Customers

Small Business Sales Advice: You can shorten sales cycles, reduce cost of acquisition/marketing and build customer loyalty by mining your customer base.
By Rene Zamora 

In the early 1900’s, Reverend Russell Conwell — founder of Temple University — gave a popular speech called “Acres of Diamonds.” In it, he said: “Your diamonds are not in far distant mountains or in yonder seas. They are in your own backyard if you but dig for them.”

Once you’ve made a new sale, your new customers know, like, and trust you, and are more likely to buy from you a second time. Here are some tips for you to effectively mine your “acres of diamonds”:

  1. Organize Contacts: You have to be able to get back in touch with your customers again to be able to market and sell to them. Maintain a centralized database to organize names, addresses, and phone numbers. Keep track of purchase histories and interests. If you don’t have this data currently, start with you’re A customers. Define them as A not only by business volume or years as a customer but how they are to work with, how they pay, etc. One you have your list, collect information on customers and set out to inform them of new products and services relevant to their needs.
  2. Collect Information: Depending on your business, there are a variety of ways you can collect customer data such as sign-up sheets, website forms, postcards, and so on. Be creative — use free offers, VIP programs, and contests to provide incentives.
  3. Regularly Communicate: No matter what business you are in, find methods to stay in regular communication with your customers. Ideas include a newsletter, ezine, holiday cards, coupons, and special offers. For some businesses, it may work to take a client out to lunch or send a hand-written note. And, don’t forget the telephone!
  4. Offer Proof: Provide case studies and testimonials to show how you have helped other customers. In your communication, you can provide helpful information, offer seminars, and provide useful tips to keep your business on the top of your customers’ minds and to remind them of how your company can help them.
  5. Testimonials Sell: For word-of-mouth, there is no one that can sing your praises like a satisfied customer! Nothing speaks louder to a potential customer than a peer. Ask for testimonials. Post these on your website or feature them in your newsletter. Remember, if you don’t think to ask, they may not think to offer.
  6. Cross-Sell and Up-sell: Make sure customers know the entire range of your products or services. Once your customer is in your sales funnel, they are much more likely to buy larger-ticket items from you. Based on their past buying habits, offer them the deluxe model, more options, or premium services.