Targeting Existing Customers Without Saturating Them

Michele Warg
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In the business world, it's common knowledge that it's cheaper to retain a current customer than it is to bring in a new customer. For sales professionals, however, it can be difficult to target customers without inundating them with sales pitches. By creating a careful sales strategy, you can maintain strong relationships and avoid irritating your customers.

In a sales situation, your existing customers are often the best source of future sales. People who have already worked with you have fewer barriers in the sales process; they know how you operate, they are familiar with your communication style, and, assuming that past interactions were successful, they trust you to deliver on time.

As you find ways to target customers, timing is a crucial consideration. You must reach out to customers often enough that they remember your name but not so frequently that you become a nuisance.  The exact timing should be based on your knowledge of the customer, the natural life cycle of your products, and your industry expertise. If you are selling large manufacturing equipment, for example, a weekly contact is likely to saturate your customers. Instead, target customers based on the products they buy. A week after a large machine sale, you might touch base to answer questions or offer advice. Two months later, you might pitch maintenance or cleaning products. A year later, you could offer information on replacement parts. By anticipating a customer's needs, you can position yourself as a helpful resource rather an irritation.

For some sales professionals, it is difficult to move past phone calls and email. To target customers without direct contact, consider alternative communication channels, like Facebook or Twitter. With social media, you can promote your products to specific customer groups. And, because consumers are accustomed to social media, it is easier for them to accept indirect sales pitches without becoming overwhelmed. In the age of smart phones and tablets, social media is a key part of a successful sales strategy.

In many cases, selling to your existing customers is not enough. According to a recent story from Gartner, you must also market to them. Because marketing tactics are gentler and more indirect than sales pitches, they can help you reach out to customers without annoying them. Instead of calling a customer every week to pitch a new product, for example, you might send the brochure for a product line that will help get the most out of past purchases. The key is to provide personalized content that asks nothing of the customer, but increases product and brand awareness. By using this method to target customers, you can take away some of the pressure to buy without losing contact.

Whether you are just starting out in business or looking to increase your sales, it pays to build relationships with existing customers. When you find ways to target customers without overwhelming them, you can increase awareness without sabotaging revenue.



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