How To Use The Internet To Sell More To Existing Customers

Survey after survey in our industry shows that one of the most vexing problems is selling more to existing customers. There are actually a number of ways to do just that. But today I want to focus on some basic (but very seldom implemented) online strategies.

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About seven years ago I was approached by an insurance agent eager for my business. She worked hard and I ended up buying multiple insurance policies.

But once she got that check in her hand the hard work ended. The silence after the sale was deafening.

I'm now in the market for some more insurance needs. Guess who I'm not going to call? That's right: the insurance agent who basically ignored a high-profit customer after the initial sale.

The Internet Could Have Helped Her

Survey after survey in our industry shows that one of the most vexing problems is selling more to existing customers.

There are actually a number of ways to do just that. But today I want to focus on some basic (but very seldom implemented) online strategies.

1) Electronic Newsletters (enewsletters)

When you boil it down to the basics - repeat business is about trust and relationships. When it comes to building those things online I’ve had excellent results with electronic newsletters. And I’m not the only one.

Companies that implement enewsletters can experience an

  • Increase in sales: 20% increase in leads that convert to actual sales (DemandGen Report)
  • Decrease in costs: 33% drop in marketing costs (Forrester Research)
  • Higher price points: average purchase price increased by 47% versus peers (Annuitas Group)
  • Trust: you and I buy from people we know, like and trust. Electronic newsletters help you accomplish that and help position your company as an expert. In fact, according to CEO.com, 96% of CEO's prefer enewsletters for the information.

3 Tips to a Great eNewsletter:

  • Keep it short (Avoid the ‘War and Peace Mentality’)
  • Keep it consistent (at a minimum – commit to a once-a-month schedule)
  • Keep it interesting - make it fun and enjoyable to read. Avoid "corporate-speak". Don't be afraid to put your head above the fray and say something that gets attention. People are attracted to people with something to say.

Case in point: the insurance agent in my story above did send an electronic newsletter but it was clearly a cut and paste job from her corporate offices. There was no personality and I knew it. It only made the situation worse.

2) Email Series (Autoresponders)

An autoresponder is a technological marvel. It allows you to pre-load messages into your email software at designated times.

For example, let's say a customer has just purchased something from you. Within seconds of their purchase you send them a customized thank you message (this is where most companies stop).

In two or three days you can send them a follow-up message that covers some of the most common post-purchase questions you get. A third message can direct them to helpful videos at your website to improve satisfaction and use rates.

The options are truly endless and hopefully you can see that once these messages are loaded in the system, your work is done. The system automatically follows up with each customer or prospect at the designated times - no matter where they are or when they signed up.

Another advantage of using autoresponders is that it allows you to personalize all the follow up messages to the customer’s first name, last name, or virtually any combination you like.

3) Online Video

Mike Miller, director of business and industrial markets for Google, was interviewed by eMarketer and said something very interesting: when it comes to getting through to B2B executives and buyers, Google's numbers showed that how-to video's and other thought-leadership content were leading the way.

Why video?

In our industry some of the products can be complex. How-to videos can take some of that complexity out of it. As I said above, using an autoresponder to push prospects back to how-to videos engenders trust and helps build relationships. I should also point out that video is also a great way to turn leads into paying customers.

Part of getting your customers to buy more from you also includes speeding up the buying process. Guess what? A study by the Wharton School of Business found that video accelerates buying decisions by 72% versus print materials (based on my experience - you can do better by combining both media).

Trends You Can't Ignore

When it comes to the internet most companies want to focus on how to use it to bring more new customers and revenue in. And that's smart, because most buying decisions actually start online.

But don't ignore the fact that your customers utilize the internet after the sale as well. And that's your opportunity to continue to strengthen your relationship, brand and revenues.

Curtis M. Alexander is a consultant, author, speaker and recognized expert at helping industrial and manufacturing companies leverage the internet to increase profits and market position. For more helpful articles and commentary on growing your web presence visit www.curtismalexander.com

 



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