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Are you neglecting your existing customers in the search for new ones?

By Graham Roberts-Phelps

There is an old fable of an ambitious young man who travels the world in search of riches. While he is away his neighbours discover a rich seam of diamonds in his old home town.

Many of you reading this will be constantly searching for new customers, often at considerable expense. However, the secret to increasing your business results might well be within the customers and contacts you already have.

If you haven’t already noticed, the business world has changed, is changing, and will continue to change. I am not talking about the recession or our new government full of youngsters in their first political job, but some deeper underlying trends that these events mask.

Many of these changes are connected with the speed and access of choice afforded to us by the Internet, but also changing demographics and attitudes by customers – both consumers and corporate. Many products are now being relegated to ‘commodity’ status – where price becomes all too important and the only solution seems to spending large sums on price promotions, branding and ‘differentiation strategies’. In reality customers are becoming increasing cynical and disinterested in such efforts. Instead, value, honesty, service experience and convenience are coming to the fore.

A large number of businesses have yet to fully grasp these changes and continue with old (tried and tested?) methods. This is particularly true when it comes to increasing sales – more of the same is not perhaps the best plan. For example, take HMV retail – experts say retail is dead, killed by the Internet, yet HMV recently posted great results from their High Street store. How? By doing many of the things suggested in this article.

Consider how you might be trying to attract customers with special offers or price incentives. Too often companies that should know better reward adulterous customers over loyal ones. How many times have you changed insurance companies, mortgages, credit cards or mobile providers because you get a better deal as a new customer than an existing customer? Thankfully this is changing with more business now looking at rewarding loyalty and retention – making it even harder for you to win-over customers from your competitors!

However, not everyone has got the message: I recently saw a TV advert for a major bank offering a £100 for anyone that opened a new account and closed a competitors.  I have been a customer with this organisation for many years and all they send me is endless direct mail for products I already have…a £100 for my loyalty would be nice!

The way forward for smarter sales people, managers and business owners is to start focusing on growing the revenue stream from customers you already have. Here are some suggestions and tips for beginning to tap the potential reserves that exist in your current client’s budgets and wallets.

1.    Deliver brilliant customer experience consistently at every opportunity
2.    Build-in a ‘service with a sale’ mentality throughout your organisation.
3.    Focus on customer retention.