Efficiently Driving Sales by “Touching” Customers, Prospects and Referral Sources
You may, like many small businesses, reach out to important customers, prospects or contacts only when business is slow or when there is a customer problem. Customer contact may be personal, but often sporadic, reactive, and overly focused on “noisy” customers.
Or perhaps you invested significant time and money in the past on turnkey newsletters, mailers and give-aways that you “blasted” to a long, unfiltered list of clients, prospects and others. Without seeing any boost in sales, you suspect that most of your efforts were tossed in the real or virtual trash bin.
But a good customer contact approach should not be reactive or pestering. You want to build a strong, ongoing relationship with the right people, at the right time with the right approach. The approach is simple: deliberately deciding and planning who, when and what.
Who? Separate Strategies for each Contact Group
This is easily the most important decision. You want to create a separate strategy for each type of contact to make sure you are effectively communicating with each group. Typically, the “who should I contact” decision falls into some combination of the following four categories:
- Current Customers and Clients: Will you be introducing a new product or service that is focused on a specific subset of clients? Do you want to specially reach out to your largest or most strategic clients? If so, you will want to divide your customers into groups by the type of product/service purchased, industry or location.
- Prior Customers: These are clients that have done business with you in the past but have not made a purchase recently. Given the decisions you made above regarding your current customer base and product launches, you may also want to create subsets by product/service used, industry, location or size.
- New Prospects: This group consists of leads that you may have captured via a sign-up box on your website, at a trade show or through networking. Although they have not as yet purchased from you, they have expressed an interest in your company and products.
- Referral Sources: These professionals are not direct sales prospects but can often refer business or influence purchase decisions. These “centers of influence” may be trusted advisors such as lawyers, bankers, accountants and consultants who are often asked for their opinions and recommendations. Referral sources can also be well known figures within your target industry or simply well connected individuals in your business community. The key to approaching this group is to stay in close enough contact so that, if asked for a recommendation for a product or service, your company immediately comes to mind.
Remember that not all contacts are created equal. Start off by focusing on those groups that are most likely to maintain and grow your business and then build from there. In the next two posts we’ll focus on decisions that can save you time while building relationships.