If you are running an established small business, there is a sales prospecting opportunity you are likely missing right under your nose. It has nothing to do with boosting your Facebook posts or buying advertising on any other social media platform. You will likely not need to spend a great deal of information sharing to convince these prospects to purchase from you. You might be wondering who these amazing, buying dreamboats are. Have you guessed yet?
Surprise! It’s your existing customer pipeline!
Here’s How to Level Up Your Sales/Marketing Strategy
Don’t Let These People Who Know You Slip Away
Most emerging businesses are focused on one thing 100% of the time: new customer/client acquisition. They allocate a majority of their sales and marketing budget and sweat equity to them all year desperately trying to get their attention to buy what they are selling. While they are busy wooing these strangers, the existing customers are not being nurtured. They lay idle, only buying what you originally sold to them. Joining them only on your lonely sales sideline are your qualified prospects. Remember them? These are the very people who have already expressed interest in doing business with you, but haven’t for one reason or another. Most small business owners admit they are ignoring these low-hanging fruit contacts, which can be detrimental to sales goals and their bottom line.
Engage the Ones Who Know, Like, and/or Trust You
Believe or it not, any customer who has been paying you for your services for an extended period of time has established a rapport with you. You provide the service they are willingly paying for and they look to you as a trusted partner. When was the last time you made a friendly touchpoint with them to see how things are going? More importantly, when was the last time you asked them how else you can help them, unrelated to buying something from you?
Customer service is more than just about providing your high-quality service on time without disruption–your customers and clients already expect this. What offers you more opportunity to upsell to your clients and convert prospects into customers is your willingness to help them reach their goals. If you are asking them what they are struggling with you are positioning yourself and your firm as a trusted partner who is supporting their mission.
Don’t Worry, Your Prospect List is Big Enough
All too often I hear business leaders making excuses as to why they fail to nurture prospects. One of those excuses is that the list is too small. Well, there is no rule as to how large or small your prospect list should be to nurture it. In fact, if you have a solid list of only five to 10 prospects, it will never hurt you to reach out to them to find out how things are going from time to time.
Not sure who a prospect is? A general rule is that a prospect is an individual or company that you have a serious discussion about doing business together, but for some reason or another it didn’t work out. Many business owners disregard these as merely a lost sale, which in the long term can be a costly mistake. If you spent any amount of time chatting with these people, discussing their pain points and presenting them with potential solutions that you felt would meet their needs, then you have begun a value relationship with them. As long as you didn’t curse out your prospect for not doing business with you (please never do that), the door is always open to work with them in the future.
Three Ways to Nurture Customers/Clients and Prospect Relationships
- Use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Tool. There are many free, online CRM options that are quite robust to track your interactions with these future customers and clients. Consider setting “touchpoint” reminders in the CRM to send a friendly email or call them to check in to see how things are going. You will never know if they are happy with their ultimate choice of supplier, service provider, or vendor, or dissatisfied with your service, if you don’t reach out to them.
- Send Them Information They Can Use Without You. You know that e-newsletter you have been thinking about starting? Now is the time to move forward with it. Make sure you follow the content marketing 80/20 rule of sharing 80% of information they can leverage without your assistance and 20% detailing about how you can help them (that should be in a sidebar or at the bottom of your content). If you do not have time to create an e-newsletter, hire someone to handle that for you as it is a good use of your sales and marketing budget.
- Invite your Customers and Prospects out to a Business Social Event. Ask them to be your guest at the next business association luncheon or evening networking cocktail hour you are planning to attend. Make sure you introduce them to people they should know to grow their business. Avoid sales pitches, but instead ask them about their recent successes and challenges, and offer friendly advice. This will not only demonstrate that you care about their company, but it may present opportunities for you to do business with them or be referred to someone else they know that they feel you can help.
Maintaining a rapport with business people who already know you and have a level of admiration for you and your company is far easier then trying to get your foot in the door with a fresh, unknown lead. Implement a strategy to build upon existing customer and prospect relationships to reap the rewards in the form of increased sales and referrals over time.