A common concern among small-business owners is how to increase revenue. Often, they try to do this by finding new customers.
That is an expensive way of doing it. On average, it will cost from $20 to $50 to get a new customer. Yet it only costs from $1 to $5 to expand sales to an existing customer.
Not only does increasing sales to current customers save money, but existing customers tend to spend more money than will new customers.
So whether you are encouraging your staff or doing it yourself, focusing on your existing customers can provide good returns for a low-cost investment.
Focusing on the existing customer starts with thinking in terms of not only today’s sale but the purchases a customer will make long term. A customer buying from a business represents income not only today but for many years.
An easy way to increase sales to existing customers is to offer complementary products and services. For instance, if you sell luggage, add a rack of luggage tags.
Often, these simple additional items offer a good rate of return. And these items move easily. The only requirement is that you and your staff need to make the customer aware that you carry them.
Another simple tool for increasing sales to existing customers is to remain in touch. The contact with customers can be about a new product or services they might like. These contacts also are a good way for businesses to thank them for their past business.
Of course, nothing can beat a good customer referral system where existing customers help you attract other customers. Make sure that you acknowledge or even offer an incentive for the referral.
Businesses selling to other businesses also should think about how they can help the other businesses increase their sales. One way is for businesses to work together to offer customers a combination of their products and services.
No matter what the economic climate is, getting more sales from existing customers makes good business sense, so take time to plan how this strategy can work in your business.
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Glenn Muske is an independent expert on rural small business, working as GM Consulting – Your partner in achieving small business success. He provides consulting, and writes articles for county extension agents and newspapers across North Dakota. Previously, he was the Rural and Agribusiness Enterprise Development Specialist at the North Dakota State University Extension Service – Center for Community Vitality.