Where to Find Loyal Customers

by John Mehrmann

Loyal customers are the most coveted of all customers in business. They account for repeat sales, larger purchases, and referrals to new customers. So how do you find them? Where do you begin to look?

"It takes 10 times more time, effort and expense to win new customers than it takes to keep existing ones." If this is true, are companies investing as much to develop the infrastructure and support for existing customers as they spend on efforts to acquire new ones?

If a casual customer makes a single purchase based on convenience and price, then that customer may go to your competition the next time for the same reasons. What would it be worth to your company to turn a casual customer into a loyal customer?

How much is a loyal customer worth to your company if they provide repeat business and act as an evangelist to promote your products or services to others?

Casual customers are perpetually shopping for the next best deal. Loyal customers are invested in your history, your future and your success. Loyal customers will communicate with you and tell you what they think, believing that you are equally interested in making improvements. Communicating customers can become your "Referrals," and other times may be referred to as "Squeaky Wheels."



Are you giving the right amount of time, effort and investment to your loyal customers? Do you know who your loyal customers are?

Where are you looking?

By using the Internet, it is much easier for customers and companies to conduct comparative research. Customers are self-sufficient when it comes to analyzing price, features, performance and competition. Sales professionals must also be self-sufficient and utilize the same tools to understand the competitive landscape, locate customers and create opportunities to develop the sales relationship.

Some of the most potent tools for sales professionals are frequently overlooked because they are so close at hand. The people who provide service and support for existing customers are the most influential sales force for existing customers. These are the people who can transform casual customers into loyal customers. These are the people who can resolve customer concerns, nurture relationships and keep the professional sales person informed of the customer's buying cycle. As a customer measuring the reliability of a used car, are you more likely to believe the used car salesman in the plaid suit, or the mechanic in oil stained overalls?

If you are looking for leads to expand your business, begin with a review of the existing customers and determine which ones have greater depth of opportunity. Every customer that has invested in your products or services has contributed to your salary, paying for your home, rent or car. Let your customers know how much you appreciate them. In the process, you will quickly discover how many of your customers are influential in their own industries or communities. In helping your customer's achieve their goals you will develop your own reputation, which is far easier than trying to establish credibility with a stranger.

If you are in sales and shaking you head at the overwhelming task of giving this much attention and care to all of your customers, then devote an appropriate amount of your valuable time to those people who take care of your customers all day long. Get to know the individuals in your Customer Care group or Service Department. These are the Shepard's for your flock, give them your support and recognition. By working closely with these people you will expand your knowledge of your organization and your customers. You will learn more about the capabilities of your own organization, build your own confidence, and become intimately familiar with the needs of your customers. In the process you may also discover other new customers, or opportunities to grow existing ones.

The Formula Guarantee

It is a simple and effective formula: dedicate 10% of your time to communicate with the individuals inside your organization who directly care for your customers and you will improve your effectiveness 110%. Know your organization, understand your customers' issues, discover what delights your customers, and nurture your casual customers into loyal ones. Your loyal customers are just waiting to be found.

This formula comes with a guarantee: Dedicate 10% of your time for 30 business days to communicate with the individuals in your organization who take care of your customers and if you do not see an improvement in your ability to communicate and expand your influence with both new and existing customers, then your complete conversations may be refunded to you.

Words of Wisdom

"Great customer service experiences are a source of long-term competitive advantage."
- Collin Shaw, "Building Great Customer Experience"

"Anyone who views a sale as a transaction is going to be toast down the line. Selling is not about peddling a product. It's about wrapping that product in a service - and selling both the product and the service as an experience. This approach to selling helps create a vital element in the process: a relationship."
- Marilyn Carlson, CEO Carlson Companies

"Loyal customers are just waiting to be found. They have already invested in your products or services and are just waiting to be noticed. Before you begin planning your budget for new acquisitions, understand the investors who have purchased stock in your future."
- John Mehrmann

John Mehrmann is a freelance author, industry expert and President of Executive Blueprints Inc., an organization devoted to improving business practices and developing human capital.

 
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