All businesses spend a lot of their time and energy looking to acquire new customers. Quite rightly so – it is obvious that this is essential if any business is to grow and prosper.
It can be really exciting when we put a brand new customer on the books, time to celebrate the fruits of our hard sales labours. But be careful, danger lurks! Be mindful of the old story of:
The salesperson that wines and dines his prospect over a period of time. He puts together a great package of solutions and the prospect is impressed by the effort of the salesperson, not only in the proposed solution which completely meets his needs, but also in his attitude to do whatever it takes to build a strong relationship and send the message that the customer is #1.
And they work together happily thereafter!
Maybe, but maybe not.
We’ve found that there can be a tendency to forget about prospects once they become customers. Or if we don’t forget about them, maybe we don’t show them the same urgency that we did when they were a prospect.
We’ve asked some salespeople that we know to explain this and the answer generally focuses around the fact that when a prospect becomes a customer they’re entitled to ask for whatever they need, and anyway the focus of the salesperson must be on acquiring other new customers.
A couple of observations:
- First, in using great relationship building techniques, such as those above, with a prospect we establish a standard that they expect to continue when they become a customer. Indeed, you can argue that we have contracted to do this, just as much as we contract to deliver the various features of our product. If you don’t they have every right to take their business elsewhere, and they probably will.
- Second, existing customers are a fantastic source of new business, either in buying additional products or as a source of referrals. Indeed, if a customer subsequently decides to buy a second product from you they are something like 8 times more likely to stay a customer of yours for life.
So look after your existing customers and treat them like gold dust, because that’s exactly what they are.