Getting a customer for your direct sales business can be hard work. So when you do get an interested customer, you definitely want to keep them. One of the best ways to do that is simply by staying in touch.
Keeping in touch with customers helps ensure they’ll keep coming back to you whenever they need a product like the ones you sell. Plus, keeping in touch makes customers feel valued, which is another incentive to get them to keep returning to your business.
They question is how to keep in touch? If you’re not a natural communicator, you may think you need some big elaborate plan for contacting your customers. But you really don’t!
Here are five easy ways to let your customers know you’re still in business and encourage them to bring you their business again and a again.
1. Follow up Phone Calls
After you’ve sold product to a customer, be sure to call them back shortly after the sale. Let them know that it was nice meeting them, and ask them if they are happy with their purchase. The same applies when you hold in-home parties. After you host a party, call every guest within one to two days to simply thank them for attending.
2. Notes and Cards for No Apparent Reason
Customers might expect a follow-up call after a party or sale. But they definitely won’t expect a card from you for no apparent reason. So surprise them! Send a card to every former customer about every two months. Attach a simple note just to let them know you’re thinking about them. This will not only make customers feel important, but it will also keep you in their minds the next time they need something. And that’s the whole point.
3. Say Thank You
Whenever a customer buys something from you, remember to send her a thank-you card after the purchase has arrived. Sending a simple card lets your customers know that you truly do appreciate their business and that you aren’t in this just for the quick sale.
4. Put the Spark Back in Old Relationships
If you have customers you haven’t seen or talked to in awhile, send them a note or a quick phone call right away to let them know that you miss them and you’re thinking about them. Ask how they’ve been and if there’s anything you can do for them. Even if there’s not at the time, it might remind the customer that you’re still in business and keep you in mind when they do need something.
5. Celebrate with Your Customers
What better time to send a card and a note than on a birthday, anniversary, or other big moment in someone’s life. Be diligent about noting these big moments in each customer’s life in your planner, then commemorate each one. Even if it’s just a small computer-printed card, it lets your customer know you’ve remembered.
Keeping in touch with your customers is one of the easiest things you can do to boost your income and build your direct sales business. Not only will it let customers know that you care and appreciate them, but it will also place you in the forefront of their minds when they need one of your products.
Sending notes, cards or emails, or making phone calls builds real, vital relationships with your customers, not just sales. And from the customer’s side of things, that’s what we all want. By building relationships and strengthening those you already have, you’ll find yourself searching for customer leads much less often.
In any business, large or small, customer loyalty can mean the difference between a profitable business or no business at all. Attracting customers is important, but it’s as equally important to keep the customers you have.
Sadly, many direct sales consultants fail because they make the mistake of overlooking customer loyalty and the vital role it plays in their business success. Wise direct sellers know that one of the keys to a successful business lies in creating a loyal customer base that buys your products time and time again.
Creating a customer loyalty is easy to achieve, though it does take some effort. Providing quality customer service, a great product, and knowledgeable assistance will ensure your customers return again and again.
Successful direct sales consultants know to listen to the needs of their customers, then meet those needs honestly and efficiently. Even if you have a great product, failing to respect your customers needs can cause you to lose them.
Communicate with your customers. When your customer has a question, respond within 24 business hours, if at all possible, and always in a professional manner. Offer customers a way to reach you via telephone, email, or even by fax. If you have sales and specials, offer a way for your customers to receive updates (ideally by email) so they can keep up with news regarding your products.
Customers continue to buy when a product fills a need they have. Ask yourself if you’re reaching out to your customers and addressing their needs. Do you know what their needs are? Are you working to meet them? If not, what do you need to change to meet the needs your customers have? If you’re unsure, ask your customers. After all, who knows better than they do what they need. Evaluate the areas that can be improved upon, then improve them.
Fix a problem. If you’ve been contacted by a customer about a problem, fix it. It’s that simple. Listen to and try to understand the customer’s complaint. Immediately thank the customer for bringing the problem to your attention and give her a reasonable solution to resolve the problem. One of the worst things a business owner can do is to fail to properly address complaints. Use customer issues as opportunities to build better customer relations.
Drive your customer loyalty up through reliability. It’s a simple idea but it’s sometimes forgotten. As a direct sales consultant, it’s important to strive for reliability in all areas of your business. If you tell your customer your product will be there on Tuesday, do your level best to ensure it is.
If you disappoint your customers too often, it becomes apparent that you’re not reliable, and they will quickly move on to another consultant they can trust. Hold yourself accountable to high standards for the sake of your business.
Create a customer loyalty program that provides benefits for your customer’s patronage. Periodically offer customer incentives such as free shipping or exclusive discounts for their loyalty. Another good idea for rewarding a customer is to remember her birthday. Send a simple card and a special discount or small gift.
Customers are loyal to those who listen to and address their needs. If you have strong customer service skills and are knowledgeable about your products, you have the key ingredients to building a strong customer base that will help you create a successful direct sales business.
Honesty, integrity, and trust are key factors that will help you develop a strong, loyal customer base. If your customers trust you as their number one source for a product, they’ll help you build your business by telling others how great you are.
Keep in touch with your customers so you can stay in the front of their minds. Build a great relationship with them so they will think of you first when they need the product you offer and you’re well on your way to developing a loyal customer base that will shop with you over and over.
Lew Young, former Editor in Chief of Business Week, said that “the most important management fundamental that is being ignored today is staying close to the customer to satisfy his needs and anticipate his wants.” You can learn a lot about direct sales success by heeding these words of business wisdom.
What Mr. Young was referring to is what we commonly call personalized customer service. When you practice personal customer service, and you do it well, you begin to understand your customer. You begin to anticipate her wants and desires. You begin to satisfy her needs before she even voices them.
For example, let’s say you have a customer who has shopped with you several times over the past months, but never buys much. Her family is on a tight budget, but she loves your products. Because you know she’s a fan, and you know that she struggles financially, you could treat her one of two ways.
First, you could basically ignore her, rationalizing that she can’t afford to buy. A lot of direct sales reps will do this by not offering her a catalog or never phoning her to book a party.
On the other hand, you can use her love for your company products and her need for added income to present your business opportunity to her. If she isn’t interested in the full-fledged opportunity, or maybe can’t afford that, you can offer her a sub-seller agreement where she would get a discount on her personal sales for any orders she gets from friends and family. If she accepts, you increase your sales while giving your customer the opportunity for free or discounted product. A win-win situation.
If she is truly not interested in selling anything, you can–at the very least–track the specific products your customer likes and notify her whenever any of them go on sale. Or you can offer her a 10% discount for every referral she sends your way who places an order.
While this does require some added effort on your part, this simple act could pay off tremendously in customer loyalty. When the day arrives that your customer can afford to buy more product (and it most likely will), there’s no way she’d ever desert “her” consultant who has been so good to help her buy what she wants at the best price.
There are a few simple ways to offer your customer quality care while anticipating her possible needs:
• As mentioned, keep track of the products she likes and let her know whenever they go on sale. She’ll appreciate the heads-up even if she can’t buy that time around.
• Let her know of any complementary products that work with something she’s already bought. For instance, if she purchased a cologne spray, let her know about the matching powder or body wash.
• Make it a habit to say, “I’ll see what I can do,” rather than, “No, we don’t offer that.” Even if you have to go back later and tell your customer you can’t offer what she wanted, she’ll see that you at least tried and that you were concerned about her needs.
• ALWAYS, Always, always treat your customer with the utmost respect. (Did we mention always?) Never “bite her head off” or offer a quick retort when you get angry. Never insult her or treat her rudely. While you may think it doesn’t matter if you lose that one customer because of your attitude, keep in mind that she has friends and family members who will certainly hear how she was treated–good or bad. Live by the adage that the customer is always right and even when she isn’t, she’ll know that at least you are trying to please her.
Customer service is an illusive concept in many ways. While we all know what it is when we see it, it’s sometimes hard to describe. Especially in direct sales where we may not interact as closely with our customers as in the retail marketplace. Here are some tips that will help you, as a direct sales consultant, ensure your customers are satisfied with their products, the order system and you – their sales representative!
1. Maintain good contact with your customers. Most people will understand if an order is delayed, misplaced or simply wrong. But they won’t be as quick to understand a lack of communication on your part. Stay in contact with your customers and they’ll know that you’re looking out for their best interests as you work to get their orders to them on time and as they requested.
2. Go the extra mile. If there’s a problem with an order, do everything you can to make it right. Offer free shipping or return on the replacement – even if the company charges you. Or add a small gift with the order when it finally arrives. Let your customer know she matters and she’s not just a sale for you, but someone you care about helping in any way you can.
3. Offer a personal guarantee. Many people will hang on to an item even if they don’t like it, just because they don’t want the hassle of a return. But most people will be glad to know they can return something even if they never do. The option of a return is what matters more often than not.
4. When you have to give a refund, do it cheerfully. While a lot of consultants will refund a customer’s money when they have to, all too often it’s done with a grudging attitude that tells the customer know the money is more important than she is. Choose to have a better attitude and your customers will respond with loyalty and referrals – that’s a guarantee you can be sure of.
6. Offer a discount for repeat sales. Offering your repeat customers 20 percent off subsequent orders, based either on quantity of items purchased or simply on the number of orders given, lets your customers know you appreciate their business. And everyone wants to feel appreciated.
7. Give them a referral fee. If one of your customers refers another customer to you, thank them with a small gift or a added discount on their next order. This minimal amount can go a long way toward getting you added customers on a regular basis.
Good customer service makes the difference in one-time sales and repeat business. And any sales or marketing expert will tell you that it’s much less expensive, and much easier, to keep a customer you already have rather than try to find a new one. Do what you can to keep your customers while continuing to add new ones and you’ll build your direct sales business bigger than even your wildest dreams.
Ahhhh, the elusive customer.
Sometimes it seems like we go through so much time, effort and money to find a new customer. If we sat down and figured out how much that customer cost us, it would be scary. It is especially scary if that customer only shops one time. So what is obvious is that the development of that customer is an important part to our advertising budget and to their shopping happiness.
So how can we find and create the perfect customer? And what can you do to keep that customer once they have found you?
- Don’t be stingy on your advertising dollars but make sure you are spending them properly.
- Use door to door advertising especially if you have things like mini mailers, flyers or postcards with samples.
- Let the advertising work. Don’t stop an ad or a method until you have tried it for at least 3-4 months or 3-4 touches
- Know that this is all about relationship building. So be friendly, kind and have the tools available to get key information like important dates, likes and dislikes on products, how often they would like to be contacted.
- Add to your mailing list and have 1-2 touches per month with tips and assorted information.
- Customer service calls after product delivery is critical. Check on use of the product to make sure they know how to use it.
- Have a sale once in a while on items you know your customer wants and needs
- Make returns easy. Nothing more to say on that.
- Make ordering easy. Don’t place restrictions on placing an order. If you are in a party plan business, have certain days in the month that you place an order for your refill customers or non party customers. Always invite sales anytime.
- Make wish list forms available. This can be for Christmas, Birthdays, Bridal Registery, Baby Registery, or whatever your business needs.
- Have automatic refill shipping available. If you client has used the same item over and over, estimate when they will be needing it again and automatically place that order before they run out.
- KISS or Keep It Simple Sweetie. Don’t confuse your customer with difficult shipping, fees, returns or too much information. We know that info overload can cause a customer to walk away. They want to be in control.
Returning customers are an important factor and by making sure you are accessible and letting your customer know that you are easy to do business with, you can develop a great relationship that is long lasting and profitable.