It costs 6 times more to find a new customer than to retain an existing account. Look after all your accounts as happy customers and they will stay with you. Also they will tell others what a great supplier you are, leading to an easy increase in sales.
Always under promise and over deliver. There is nothing worse than promising something that doesn’t happen. Your credibility as a reliable supplier is lost instantly. Never lie, although sometimes you need to be economical with the truth and only give your customer part of the story.
Speedily resolve any complaints. Often I have turned a serious complaint into a great selling opportunity just by listening with a sympathetic ear, immediately resolving the problem and ringing the customer back with a solution. Then adding a little extra for the inconvenience we caused them.
At every meeting agree on actions, complete them to the agreed dates and make a date for the next meeting, agreeing on objectives to be achieved at the next meeting. This ensures you are seen to be caring about that account and also that you maintain an ongoing dialogue.
Constantly work at being the sales person the customer likes best. Always look smart. Be enthusiastic, with the customer’s interests in mind. When the customer’s interests and yours coincide you have a win – win situation so make the most of it in publicity terms too.
Bring new sales leads to your customer that will help them grow their business. This will also increase sales for you. This could be as simple as searching on Google every month for articles of interest to your customer and then showing them. A busy buyer will not have time to look for information of value to them, so spend a few minutes each week doing it for them.
For at least 20% of your time focus on developing new accounts. This will ensure a growing market in which you increase sales continuously. You must keep your pipeline of potential orders full and sometimes this will not happen by just maintaining existing accounts. Constantly look for new accounts. Also re-contact dormant accounts to see if new business can be developed with them. Spend at least 20% of your time on dormant and new account contacting.
Top tips – Focus on your largest, regular customers. Visit them frequently and constantly think of ways to help them sell more. Use 20% of your time to contact dormant accounts and potential new ones.
Mike Ellacott worked in ICI for 32 years in senior management positions. He maintained brand leadership for ICI Perspex for many years across Europe. He has advised many companies on how to sell effectively. He has been an Enterprise Advisor in schools and colleges in the UK for 8 years.