Many people in West Michigan believe that the easiest customer to “sell” to is a referral customer. And in some ways, they’re right.

But in my opinion, the best kind of prospect to sell on your services is one you already have.

So, that being the case, it sure does make sense to make an investment in your relationships with your customers, yes?

Before I go into more detail, a couple reminders:

1) Estimated taxes for the third quarter are due on Monday, September 17th (normally the 15th, but that’s on the weekend). If this applies to you, you know who you are. We’d love to help you, though, if you need a quick word of advice. Shoot me an email.

2) Corporate filings for returns on extension are also due on Monday the 17th. Again, you know who you are, if this is for you … but let these simple reminders not be wasted!

Now, back to the subject at hand.

You might notice that this is a theme I return to frequently (your existing customers). Why do I that?

Simple: as we look at continued uncertainty in world and national economies, the one asset that can never be taken away — and your *greatest* advantage over any other business in your space — is the relationships you have with your customers or clients.

So, as your numbers cruncher and, in a way, a financial “coach” for your business, I know that when I can convince you to make this kind of investment, you’ll thank me — and use my services for longer.

So it’s not pure “charity” on my part to keep spending time on these kinds of notes for you. I want your business to last forever.

I hope that’s not disillusioning. After all, when you and your business do well, it helps us to stay in business.

But all that aside, here are some more thoughts, specifically about how to build those “existing customer” relationships…

Who Should West Michigan Businesses Pursue, Existing Customers or New Customers?

“Do something nice and try not to get caught.” – Quaker Proverb

I’ve spoken before about the value of a regular communication plan with your existing clients and friends. And as I’ve done so, here are some things which I’ve discovered for you to carefully consider:

#1: Most businesses pay too much in chasing new customers and too little in building repeat business with their current customers.

#2: The satisfied customer will likely purchase again. And they will purchase more, and will purchase something different.

#3: It definitely costs less to motivate a known customer in West Michigan to purchase again than to acquire a new customer.

#4 BIG IDEA: Customers are only fickle because a new competitor is paying more attention to them than you are.

In B2B, many companies make the huge mistake of having all their contact with their customers go through a sales representative. This leaves the customers vulnerable to theft if the representative jumps to another employer. It also leaves too much opportunity for negligence on the sales rep’s part.

Regardless of the layers of distribution between you and your customer, it’s a good idea to establish some direct link. The owner of a restaurant can do that by coming around and chatting personally with the customers. The chief executive officer of a large company can do it with email, direct mail, and maybe a publicly-available email address.

Whichever channel you choose, here are the kinds of things you should be communicating to your existing customers:

  1. Introducing new products or services.
  2. Giving advance notice of and explain price or fee increases (especially if existing customers can avoid them through a response).
  3. Offering special discounts or premiums.
  4. Providing content around the use of your product or service.
  5. Giving recognition to top customers.
  6. Announcing seasonal sales.
  7. Warm relationship building for its own sake.

I’ve rarely seen a business from West Michigan that could not increase and improve through increased direct marketing to current customers.

Do not make the mistake of assuming knowledge of your business on the part of the customer.

You might feel that you are boring them by telling the same story repetitively, but that is in YOUR head, and most often not in your customers’.

That means that if you have quality, service, guarantee, price or other advantages, you absolutely should point them out each and every time you deliver some kind of sales conversation.

Small businesses (like yours) desperately need to place a new higher value on the customer, no matter the economic climate. Communicate more with your customers and you’ll do more business.

Feel very free to forward this article to a West Michigan business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for families and business owners.

Warmly,

Ashley Forrest

(231) 747-7648

Forrest Tax & Accounting Services