It’s challenging enough to bring in new customers, harder still to keep them, and downright difficult to get them to spend more. But that isn’t to say that it can’t be done. Here’s how.
1. Offer similar promotional deals to new and existing customers. Allison Beardsley, owner of Club Pilates Studio in San Diego, Calif., uses Groupon to attract new customers. But a week before the Groupon promotion goes live, Club Pilates sends out a newsletter offering existing clients a similar deal. Says Beardsley, “It’s a win-win and has become a staple of our business model.”
2. Learn who your customers are. “Why are your customers coming into your business? What attracted them to come that very first time?” asks Ryan Jeffery, vice president of business development at Belly, a company that specializes in customer loyalty programs. Getting to know your customers and understanding their motives is the first step in getting them not only to buy more, but also to come back more often, he says.
3. Don’t be pushy. If you can relate to your customers and talk to them in a way that makes them feel comfortable, they will be much more willing to bring out their wallets, Jeffery says. “If you are forceful and aggressive, it will have an immediate negative impact on how the customer approaches his or her buying decision — and people spend less when they are in a bad mood.”
While you want to upsell a client, make an appropriate offer. “If a customer is buying a can of paint, it is perfectly logical to ask if he or she needs brushes or other items to complete a paint project,” notes Shep Hyken, author of The Amazement Revolution: Seven Customer Service Strategies to Create an Amazing Customer and Employee Experience. “Ask what else the customer may be looking for. It may even be unrelated to the purchase they are about to make, [which can] reveal other [sales] opportunities.”
4. Make a great first impression. Engage customers with a strong welcome. “This first impression sets the tone for whatever interaction is to follow,” Hyken says. Then ask an open-ended question, such as, “‘What are you looking for today?’ Ask why. Why does the customer want what they are buying? This may reveal other [sales] opportunities.”
5. Think long-term. Focus on creating lifelong customers, Jeffery advises. “This stat gets thrown around a lot, but 20 percent of a business’s customer base accounts for 80 percent of all spending. Loyal customers are 78 percent more likely to tell others about your business and are 69 percent more likely to purchase more in your store.” People want to be appreciated, especially by small businesses, he adds. Use tools that focus on retaining your customer base.
6. Be the topic of discussion. Customers are always talking — even if it’s not trackable or measurable, it’s noticeable. “Make sure you are providing an experience that people want to positively talk about. They may not go write a Yelp review or post a glowing status to their friends on Facebook, but they sure as hell are going to say something to someone,” Jeffery says. “It helps to create an experience that is unforgettable. Don’t be afraid to be different and do something that customers remember for a long time, hopefully in a positive way.
7. Always strive for excellence. Keep raising the bar. Gary Patterson, author of Million-Dollar Blind Spots: 20/20 Vision for Financial Growth, recommends: “Ask yourself why your target customer should buy from you rather than your competition? What are the three best new products or services you could create longer term, and how do you best pursue those opportunities?”