Waking the Sleeping Giant: Reactivating Dormant Accounts

By Lain Ehmann

Research shows that existing customers are five to ten times more likely to buy from you than people who have never bought from you before. Research also shows that it costs up to ten times more to acquire new customers than to sell to existing ones. But despite the numbers, it’s the new accounts that always get the attention. Why? “Because it’s glamorous. It’s fun,” says Robert W. Bly, author of Fool-Proof Marketing: 15 Winning Methods for Selling Any Product or Service in Any Economy (John Wiley & Sons, 2002).

In a tough economy, though, salespeople need to look for meat and potatoes, not glamour. And, Bly says, one of the most overlooked sources of revenue is dormant accounts. “There is a small fortune locked up in your dormant customers,” explains Bly. “Reactivating those inactive accounts is one of the easiest, quickest ways to reenergize your business during a downturn, bring in new orders and increase revenues.”

Bly has separated the process of reactivating dormant accounts into four methods. The first and most basic is recontacting. Simply by getting back in touch with previous customers, you can remind them of your existence and stimulate them to order from you again. The quickest and easiest way to make sure you keep in touch with your client base, says Bly, is via Internet automation, whereby you create a permission-based database and regularly email your contacts.

The second method is reselling. With this approach you get in touch with inactive customers and determine why they are no longer purchasing from you. Then you address their objections in the appropriate manner, much as you would with a new prospect who’s hesitating. According to Bly, the basic conversation is the same one you would have with a new customer: you identify needs and objections and position your product or service accordingly.

Bly’s third approach is cross selling. Sometimes, simply raising awareness among existing customers regarding your full product line can be enough to win a sale. When cross selling, remember that you’re performing a service for your customers by offering them additional products, particularly if those products work in a synergistic way with the items your customers already own.

Finally, Bly suggests up selling, where you offer your customer “bigger volume discounts, more options, the deluxe model or premium service levels based on past buying habits,” Bly explains.

When it comes to customers, Bly suggests that salespeople look beyond the immediate sale. By transforming an inactive customer into an active one, he says, you’re “extending their lifetime customer value to your business.”

For more information, please click on www.bly.com.