A client who buys a hundred times is many times more valuable to you than someone who only ever buys from you once, writes Robert Clay of Marketing Wizdom.
As obvious as this should be, in most cases when someone carries out a business transaction for the first time the businesses concerned just wait passively for the next client to call or turn up instead of actively trying to set up an ongoing relationship to develop that untapped repeat business potential.
One of the best ways of increasing your transaction frequency is to program your clients to return again and again … and that doesn’t mean using hypnotism, manipulation or underhand practices!
Instead it is a powerful strategy that can be used in any business where clients obtain a significant benefit each time they do business with you, and on an ongoing basis.
Essentially it is the process of managing people’s expectations, anticipating and meeting their future needs in a systematic manner and giving them the leadership, education or guidance they need to achieve the best possible outcome or results from your product or service. It is also about providing a level of service that enhances their lives or wellbeing to a greater extent than that offered by your competitors and educating them to that fact.
Don’t assume that your clients will automatically know, appreciate and understand the finer points of what you do if you don’t explicitly tell them. If you educate them from their first transaction with you to fully understand what you do, how you do it, and why it’s more desirable for them to transact business with you on a continual basis, you’ll have made a good start.
That means that you must be able to quickly and lucidly present the best, the easiest, the most compelling and simplest to understand and appreciate case right at the moment of the initial sale, explaining why it’s in your client’s best long-term interest to continually seek out your products and services.
When you do that, your clients are much more likely to understand and appreciate the benefits you offer at a higher level than they do your competitors. This makes it many times more likely that they’ll come back to re-purchase from you more often. And they’ll also be much more receptive when you or your salespeople write to them, email them, call them or visit them.
Start by developing and testing different ways of articulating and demonstrating to your clients how and why they will benefit from your product or service on an on-going basis, and why it’s in their best interest to deal with you continually.
Once you’ve created a formula that works, develop the process to the point where it becomes a natural and automatic part of what everyone in your business says and does whenever a new client transacts business with you.
Then reinforce that message in everything you do; in the material you send out; when your product or service is delivered; with post purchase reassurance communications; at every point of contact with the client.
Your aim should be to help your clients, in a consultative manner, to develop a buying or usage strategy that both makes sense to them and helps them achieve the outcome they’re seeking.
If you know your clients and their consumption or usage patterns, you can paint a picture not only of the outcome they can expect from next transaction, but also what their ultimate outcome will be and why committing to an ongoing purchase strategy will be much more beneficial for them than a one-off, intermittent or ad-hoc deal.
If you don’t program them at the outset of the relationship, while they’re at the height of their enthusiasm curve, you’ll have to work much harder to achieve the same result later.
It definitely shouldn’t be a case of cross your fingers and hope it happens. Getting your clients to acknowledge the outcome they’re seeking and gaining their commitment to a series of actions that will give them the result they want should be an integral part of your selling process.
If each client is inclined to use your services just once or twice more a year as a result of this initial education, guess what? You’ve probably just increased your frequency of purchase and grown your business by a substantial margin.
To illustrate the point, let’s say you run a restaurant and a client initially comes in for just a cup of coffee. If you take a genuine interest in the client, strike up a meaningful conversation, and he or she enjoys the ambience and the personalities of your team, there’s a very good chance that they will come back for lunch or dinner.
If you then advise and guide them on the best menu choices and suggest things they might like to try, perhaps even offering to waive the charge if they don’t like your recommendation, there’s a good chance they’ll make the transition from a one-time static revenue source to someone who comes in with their friends at least once a month for dinner, and pushes the boat out when they do.
You’ll benefit from dramatically increased business, and your clients and their friends will have a memorable and enjoyable experience.
Dentists often program their patients to come back for checkups every six months. Getting patients to seek their services more frequently, and explaining why and how that benefits them not only improves their patients’ dental health, but also programs them to appreciate the importance of these checkups as a continual part of their ongoing life.
Programming clients can be done in other ways too. In industries like soft furnishings where buyers have to touch and feel product samples before they will buy, sales reps and agents normally visit retailers on a regular cycle to show-off the latest products.
But when stock from a supplier runs out, the buyers generally don’t replace it until the next time the rep or agent visits. Meanwhile they often fill the hole in their shelves by ordering similar products from a competitor whose sales reps just happen to call between the regular sales visits of the original company.
A soft furnishings importer and wholesaler overcame this problem very simply by instigating a simple ‘Priority Reorder Sheet’ that was faxed to the retailer at the start of each month. It listed the products they had specifically purchased the month before. It had a column that allowed them to mark-off how many of each item they wanted and gave a freefone number to which the order could be faxed back.
That simple example of programming made it easy for retailers to check their stock requirements and reorder. It worked really well. The soft furnishings company got masses of repeat orders they’d never had before. It was like having an extra salesperson that cost them nothing. It kept competitors products off the shelves and locked them out of the account. The retailers received a much better service. And it reduced the company’s costs of servicing their clients.
Implementing a simple strategy like this in your business means that instead of living from job to job and passively waiting for your client to call you, you have on-going business with zero additional sales and marketing costs. And it will give you nothing less than guaranteed future cash flow … which will also add significantly to the capital value of your business.
Please share your thoughts and add your questions to the comments below. I’ll try to provide as many answers as possible in my future online videos, seminars, workshops, masterclasses and blog posts.
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