Depending on the type of business or service you may not even know if or when you lose a customer. Studies show less than 4% of your customers will tell you if they are unhappy so depending on your follow up process you may never know if you have a customer on the fence.
Here are the statistics on why businesses lose customers:
3% Move away
5% Form other relationships
9% Leave for competitive reasons
14% Due to product dissatisfaction
68% Stop buying your product or service because of an attitude or feeling of indifference towards them by one or more persons representing the company.
How can follow up save the 68% of the customers leaving? It’s about preventing the attitude or feeling of indifference. The following are 4 sales follow up steps to insure you don’t lose customers and avoid the 68% trap:
A simple “thank you for your business” when the sale is complete.
Send thank you cards to welcome new customers or sales.
Create an email thanking your customer again for their business and let them know where they can go for additional service and support if needed.
Determine the customer’s next need and remind them of your company or service by email, phone, or direct mail.
The major point of these steps is to insure your customers feel appreciated. Customers who feel appreciated will typically not fall into the 68%. And if by chance your customer had a less than satisfactory experience in their last transaction these steps will help turn the tide back in your favor.
To learn more about creating a follow up system make sure you to read Creating a Follow Up Strategy where I discuss follow up strategies for existing customers.
There are many reasons to send greeting cards to your customers. General follow up thank you cards, birthday cards, customer appreciation cards, and of course holiday cards. All of these customer follow up greeting cards should be a standard marketing practice for any business.
One of my favorite opportunities to reach out to existing customers and create stronger relationships is Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving after all is all about gratitude and what better way to show gratitude to your customers than by sending them a Thanksgiving card and letting them know how much you appreciate their business?
I truly believe in sending Thanksgiving cards to follow up with your customers and prospects. In fact I have recent memories of handwriting over 500 Thanksgiving cards to my clients not too long ago. This was a huge and exhausting task with each card containing two or three lines of personalized text. I spent well over two months completing this process! And while I was all gung-ho to send out holiday greeting cards to my clients as well… It was just not going to happen. I had all the holiday cards on my desk but could not get them completed in the two remaining weeks I had left. At the time I remember thinking there must be a better to get this done… Of course there is a better way and I discovered it about six months later. The next time I mailed Thanksgiving cards to my clients I sent 600 and did them all in about four hours instead of two months! I used an incredible system called SendOutCards and you can learn more about this process by visiting my Follow Up Tools page.
There are many reasons to send out Thanksgiving cards to your clients, prospects, and referral sources. The main one being appreciation. Everyone likes to be acknowledged and appreciated and when you do this your clients will do more business with you, prospects will start doing business with you, and your referral sources will send you even more referrals.
Now is the time! Start following up with your customers and prospects today with Thanksgiving cards!
Follow up is crucial in creating relationships with your clients and prospects. The number one reason business owners and sales people give me when I ask them why they don’t follow up is “I don’t have time”. When I hear this I think to myself you can’t afford not to have time! I also think the excuse of “I don’t have time” is really the business owner or sales professional self sabotaging their own success. I have discussed many systems and follow up tools to help you automate the follow up process which makes the excuse of not having time seem crazy.
Think about this… If you are a business owner or sales professional how many new clients did you receive last year? Is it 10, 50, or 100 new clients? Now approximate the total sales or commissions you received from each client and divide this by the total number of new clients from last year. What is the number or average value of each client? Is it $200, $2,000, $20,000, or $200,000 in sales or commissions?
It does not matter what the number is. What is important is that you understand what the value of one client or prospect is to you. For example let’s say the value of one client is $2,000. The next time you think to yourself I don’t have the time to follow up realize this thought can be a potential loss of $2,000! If you retain your average client for 5 years this would be $10,000!
The number one reason you will lose a customer is not from price or a competitor knocking on their door every week. The number one reason is the feeling of indifference. Clients start looking elsewhere when they feel unappreciated. This can easily be solved by having a simple follow up system in place. Imagine if you implemented a system that could not only insure your clients felt appreciated but would also increase the lifetime value of each customer. Increasing the life of your customers by just one year or more could make a huge difference in your business.
I encourage you to leave a comment and let me know what your follow up system is. Are you following up with email, newsletters, post cards, greeting cards, phone calls? What are you doing to keep strong relationships with your customers and clients? If you need help creating a follow up system or just would like me to evaluate your follow up system please contact me.
A referral and follow up system… You may be asking yourself what do I need that for? I was reminded about a pretty well know fact after reading yesterdays post on Duct Tape Marketing by John Jantsch titled My Most Excellently Flawed Referral Survey. The survey questions had to do with the percentage of your business coming from referrals or word of mouth. Here is what John found:
69.3% felt over 50% of their business came by way of referral and yet, 79% further admitted they had no well-defined system to promote referral generation. The conclusion is we know how important referrals are yet we don’t take the time to create a system to attract them!
John also asked if you are not getting a consistent flow of referrals why not? 20% of the participants of the survey just skipped this question! Maybe after realizing so much business comes from referrals and acknowledging they have no system that thinking about why was just too much must for those in the survey to handle?
For years I have heard and seen similar numbers like this. Business owners and top sales professionals say things like the live for referrals yet if I ask the simple question of what do you do when you receive a referral I more often than not get a blank stare.
Receiving more referrals is pretty simple and there are many ways to do this.
Simply asking your customers for referrals or people they know who can also use your product or service is a great place to start.
Making sure you acknowledge and reward the referral senders will naturally grow the amount of referrals you receive. People will enjoy helping you and when you acknowledge and appreciate them and will in turn help you more.
Staying top of mind with your customers, prospects, and referral sources will generate more business and referrals for you. You can do this by calling, emailing, sending greeting cards, and newsletters. Staying top of mind is customers and prospects is about creating a relationship.
The best referral and follow up system I have seen and used for years is SendOutCards. When used correctly you can create an explosion of referrals with very little effort. The reason for this is SendOutCards is a great system and once set up can go on autopilot. You can learn more about SendOutCards and how it might work for you by visiting this site. Fill out the contact information and I will call and talk to you about it personally.
Whether you use index cards, Excel, Outlook, SendOutCards, Act!, Goldmine, Saleceforce.com, or any of the many other CRM tools on the market the important thing is you use one. Commit to a system, spend the time to get it set up to work for your business, and then use it no matter what! The benefits of using your referral and follow up system will outweigh any time or pain you might feel getting it started!
So tell me, what system do you have? What are you doing to increase your referrals and follow up with your clients and prospects?
This morning I had a completely different post in mind. I was going to write about sending books to your top clients and referral sources for the New Year. In thinking about follow up this morning I decided to write about a simple and highly effective follow up strategy for the two days before Christmas.
Take a look at your top 25 clients and referral sources for the year, print out a report or simply write them down. Once you have them pick up the phone and call each one. Call them and wish them a Merry Christmas. If you are not sure if they celebrate Christmas wish them a Happy Holliday weekend. Thank these clients and referral sources for the business and referrals from the past year. Ask them what they are doing for the holiday. In general you want to touch them right before the holiday. Don’t ask for new business or referrals, just thank them and wish them a great holiday.
You may not be able to reach everyone as I am sure some have already taken the week off, so just leave a message or a voicemail. It may seem simple because it is! These simple touches build your relationships with your clients and referral sources. By doing this simple task you are showing your clients and referral sources that you care about them and appreciate them.
It’s a bit difficult for me to call you and wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday weekend! Please know that I appreciate you for taking the time to visit my blog and I truly appreciate the many emails and comments I receive from my posts. I wish for you a wonderful holiday filled with great moments which create lasting memories.
You still have time to get this important follow up strategy completed! However at this point you are a bit limited on how you can get this done. One way is to make a mad rush to the store and buy boxes of holiday cards only to spend today and most of the weekend writing them out. I must say the thought of you actually doing thing is making me tired! I know as I have done this so many times in the past! I am sure if you have not yet sent your holiday cards you know you need to and have just been procrastinating to the very last minute!
Don’t worry! You have another option available to you which will allow you to send all of your holiday cards within a few hours. Whether you need to send 100 or 2,000 holiday cards you still have time to get it done! It all starts with having access to a powerful system called SendOutCards!
SendOutCards is a very simple online tool which allows you to upload all of your addresses, choose a holiday card from over 1,000 choices, type out a nice holiday message, and with a few clicks send to your entire database! Your cards are then printed, stuffed in envelopes with a real stamp, and placed in the mail the next day! The best part is you can actually send the same holiday card to 500 customers and prospects and then go back and write additional messages to your top 25 customers and prospects to make them more personal. This means no customer or prospect is forgotten! SendOutCards also allows you to add gifts to your cards! So if you should be sending a little something extra to those top clients you are covered! To learn more about this tool visit SendOutCards and click on the top banner to send a free card and get the tour.
There is just no other service on the market that can do this with such ease! I have used this service for the past few years for holiday cards as well as all the different business greeting card occasions with great success. This is not just a holiday card tool!
If you happen to be one of those thinking “it’s too late to send holiday cards at this point” or “does sending holiday cards really make a difference in my business?”, I would encourage you to consider recent research by Hallmark: Hallmark found that businesses say they use greeting cards as a “kind of investment in their business… They’re investing in customer relationship with the hopes that it will pay back”. The company has conducted research that found at least half of customers who received holiday cards from businesses say they are more likely to continue doing business with that company versus another one. You can read more on this by reading the article in the Washington Post.
So the question to ask yourself is not whether you should send holiday cards or not… The question is whether you want your current customers to continue doing business with you!
Today you have many choices when it comes to holiday cards. The choice of holiday greeting cards is enormous, and we cannot forget holiday letters, postcards, and e-cards. As business owners and sales professionals what are the best practices? In my opinion, holiday greeting cards should be your only choice!
Holiday cards: You have many options here! Sure you can go to your local Hallmark store or grocery store to pick up your greeting cards. In fast the top two greeting card companies Hallmark and American Greetings which print most of the greeting cards on the market would love for you to do just that! It’s fairly simple, find a greeting card selection which will reflect your business in a good light, lock yourself in your office for the day and get to work!
Holiday letters: I have already received a few holiday letters from friends and businesses. These are nice and typically very personal when coming from friends and family. I would not recommend these for a business greeting. Sending a gift with a letter is a pretty common practice but in my opinion if you are spending the time and money to send a gift why not include a greeting card as well? Skip the basic form letter and add a personal note to a greeting card instead.
Holiday Postcards: Thinking this is a great cost saving alternative to mailing holiday cards is a big mistake. When I think of postcards the first thought that comes to mind is junk mail. It does not matter how much time you put into your postcard design or the amazing copy you have come up with, in the end it’s just a postcard and it will leave a neutral or negative impression.
E-cards: The crazy popularity of e-cards has come and gone. Some may say this is a great alternative to sending holiday greeting cards in the mail. I would encourage you to consider the conversation I had with Jeff Hans real estate agent on Team-Q at Re/Max Realty. Jeff mentioned a conversation he had with another business owner just last week. The business owner asked if he had received his e-card. Jeff had to think about it for a minute and then acknowledged he had received it. The business owner asked what Jeff thought and his response was the following: “I receive over 200 emails per day so receiving your e-card was just another email”. Jeff suggested that next year he mail holiday greeting cards instead of sending e-cards!
My last thought for your holiday cards choices. I mentioned the top two greeting card companies Hallmark and American Greetings so I thought I should mention the greeting card company I have used for my holiday cards, birthday cards, thank you cards, and just everyday cards for the last two years. The company is called SendOutCards and it just so happens SendOutCards is the number three greeting card company.
I think the most important thing to remember is to get your holiday cards out. It is by far the easiest follow up touch you can do this week and with each follow up touch you do you increase the awareness your customers and prospects have with you. This increased awareness will result in increased business and referrals!
For years I have been sending holiday cards. I remember back in my corporate days signing hundreds of cards to clients and vendors. The process then was to have a stack of 300 to 500 cards passed from one office to the next as we attempted to have all the employees sign the cards. I admit some years I signed the cards and at times my assistant signed them for me. I did not fully understand why I was sending them to begin with. What difference is one holiday card going to make?
After completing my corporate ladder climb and realizing I no longer wanted to work for someone but instead wanted to build my own company, I began the journey of owning and building a promotional marketing company. Through this process I had many great experiences. One that comes to mind is sending holiday cards each year to my clients and prospects. One of these prospects never actually purchased my services but I sent them a holiday card anyway. The result of this simple holiday card came six months later. The prospect called me for a new project and became a new customer. I remember asking her why she decided to call almost one year later. Her response was surprising! She said she received my holiday card and actually kept it for months after the holiday as she was so impressed I would spend the time to send her a card even though our project never materialized. She called me because I sent her a holiday card!
Here are few of the most important reasons why you should be sending holiday cards:
Holiday cards are another touch in the connection process with your customers.
Holiday cards give you an opportunity to express your appreciation to your customers.
Your customers will receive holiday cards from your largest competitors!
Customers will not always remember who sent cards but most will remember who did not!
Holiday cards put you at the top of your customers mind, this allows for more business and referrals.
Sending holiday cards is an example of great customer service.
Sending holiday cards gives you an opportunity to touch people within a company that you may not have access to. An example of this could be the CEO of your best customer whom you have only met once.
Holiday card sending used to be a huge time commitment; this is not the case anymore! Holiday cards can be very expensive however now you have very cost effective options which you cannot afford not to take advantage of! (Future posts will have some great time saving and cost effective services for holiday cards. If you need help now let me know by leaving a comment and I will send you my favorite resources.)
If you are one of those companies who have already mailed your cards I congratulate you! Sending holiday cards should be a part of every companies marketing plan, it’s one of those personal touches you must do. If you are in the procrastination stage of holiday card sending, I encourage you to get it done. Get it done today! Commit to yourself to mail all of your cards out this week, it will be worth it I promise!
A special note to those who have already decided not to mail holiday cards this year. I challenge you to rethink your reasoning. Many people have decided to cut this out because of time, cost, or just clear laziness. You cannot afford not to connect with your clients and vendors. Take the time to mail out holiday cards! Consider sending cards to your top 100 clients and referral sources. Sending holiday cards is one of my favorite follow up methods because it is an opportunity to create a personal touch in your business s relationship.
Look for my post tomorrow on the do’s and don’ts of holiday card sending!
Remember if you need help with your holiday card or gift sending options this year make a comment and I will respond to you with a few great resources that I will be covering this week.
Last year at I woke up at 4am with my phone ringing and a slight sound of sirens in the background. My house was smoky and as I ran into the living room ash was flying inside my house through the skylights. This was the morning of the 2007 San Diego fires. At the same time thousands of my neighbors were evacuating from their homes in Rancho Bernardo. This is a day I will never forget! One of these neighbors was my friend Jay I mentioned earlier this week.
So why am I bringing up the San Diego fires today? In my last post I used my friend Jay Riordan as an example of a business having a positive perspective in the current marketplace. Today I thought I would share with you another part of the story. Jay’s business, Dream Design Builders is doing really well, at the same time Jay’s competitors are downsizing and closing. Jay’s positive perspective in the current marketplace is incredible but maybe you are thinking to yourself “I am different” or “this is great for Jay but I have had this happen or that happen this year”.
So here is the rest of the story… After the fires went through Rancho Bernardo my neighbors and I started finding ways back to our homes. I was one of the lucky ones… My home was standing with no damage, my friend Jay was not so fortunate… When Jay was able to get near his street he was seeing smoldering homes everywhere including his own home.
The reason why I mention this is for you to think about your reasons or excuses you might be using right now. Jay had every reason to buy into the negativity of the media. Jay could have been fully consumed by the emotions of his recent losses. Jay could have placed all of his attention on rebuilding his home and letting his business suffer. All of these reasons would have been completely justified!
Next time you think about the reason why you are not succeeding or why your business is not growing at the rate you would like, think about the reasons you are using to justify your story. Think about the possibility of just changing your thinking.
Think about my friend Jay, who chose to package the emotional charge around losing his home to a fire, into an amazing energy focused on building an even more beautiful home and a thriving business. Isn’t that better than anything even small bit of negativity might bring you? The power of how you handle negativity in your life is truly yours.
Have you ever really thought about why customers decide to buy? What are you doing right when talking to customers? How can you improve on your customer experience to win them over? Let’s look at a general example when it comes to customers calling your business:
A new potential customer may call you inquiring about one of your products. Let’s say you are a new sales representative for the company and are eager to help any new potential customers. You are friendly, respectful, and really do everything you can to help. The customer responds and makes a purchase.
At the same time another potential customer calls inquiring about the same product. A different sales representative interacts with the customer. This seasoned sales representative has already met their sales goals and is excited as the day is ending! While the representative is pleasant, the customer can hear them organizing their desk, moving stacks of paper around, packing their bag, and not really listing to what is being asked. The customer assumes their business is not wanted and the call ends with the customer saying thank you and no sale is made.
What is the real difference in these two examples? It’s really about listening, fully engaging in the conversation you are having, and finding ways to connect with your potential customer. It’s the excitement of really wanting to help the customer which will lead the customer to a purchase.
I have had many experiences just like this. My first interaction with a company is fantastic and I think to myself “wow, this company is great”. My next interaction is a complete disappointment as I don’t receive the same level of service. Creating consistency with the customer experience is not easy but can be achieved.
Whether you are a large company with hundreds of representatives, a small business with a few sales people, or an entrepreneur handling everything on your own here are few tricks to keep the customer experience positive:
SMILE – On the phone or in person make sure you smile often! Teach this to your representatives, remind them in sales meetings, smiling changes your tone of voice, this change caries over in person and on the phone. Need to see the study? Check out: Smiles Really Do Boost Sales.
STAND UP – If you are on the phone and are feeling off, having a bad day, or just don’t seem to be connecting with your customer standing up will add new energy to the conversation. This works for all types of sales inbound, outbound, or cold calling.
REMINDERS – Add a note to your phone or computer screen with a key word. For example if your focus is to enhance the customer experience you might just write “best friend” as a reminder to talk to the potential customer with the same passion you would as if you were talking to a best friend.
POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS – Create a list of 5 or 7 possible positive experiences you would like your potential customers to have. Add the list as a screen saver, background, or just post it where you will see it as a reminder when you are talking to customers.
LAST QUESTION – Get into the habit of asking each customer “is there anything more I can help you with today?” It’s a pretty simple question and will add to the customers overall experience. Not mention you may possibly receive more sales my simply asking.
Remember, creating a positive customer experience allows you to start a long term relationship. As you follow up with the customer the relationship will grow into additional sales and referrals!
I have had many people ask me how I am always so positive or always in such a good mood. I would love to say I am always happy and positive 100% of the time! My intention is to have this be my reality and by using these tricks I come pretty darn close!