Keeping Customers

By Cindy Waxer

Studies indicate that while there’s a 1-in-2 chance of getting new business from current customers, there’s only a 1-in-20 chance of landing business with a brand new contact. Sure, you have to reach out to new people, but you also have to pay attention to the people who are most likely to bring you business. Stephan Schiffman, author of Sales Don’t Just Happen: 26 Proven Strategies to Increase Sales in Any Market (Dearborn Trade Publishing, 2002), recommends these tips for keeping your customers.

Listen to your customers.
Ask as many how and why questions as possible. In order to make the sale in the first place, you already should have discovered what it is customers want to accomplish. Now that you’ve made the sale, you need to keep in touch and figure out what you’ve overlooked or forgotten since you last discussed what was important to your customers.

Suggest new ideas.
You promised to take care of your customers. That means thinking about new ways you can work with them and help them do what they do better – not just keeping in contact when there’s a question about billing. Suggest innovative ways to work with your customers or your competition will do it for you.

Keep your customers in the loop.
Let your contacts know what is going on with you and your company. Keep people up-to-date about all relevant management and personnel initiatives. Keep up with what’s happening in your customers’ lives too.

Respond quickly and efficiently to both good and bad news.
Whether you’re moving forward on a new opportunity or resolving a problem, take action quickly and efficiently. No matter how good or bad the situation is, do what you say you will do.

Thank customers for their business.
Say thank you year round, not just during the holiday season when everyone thanks their customers. Find time during the year to show your appreciation when people don’t expect attention. A simple card, letter or note will do the trick. Just make sure the whole message is devoted exclusively to saying thank you – and not to looking for new business.

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