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.
A recent post on a direct sales news blog caught my eye today. It was an exaggerated scenario about a direct sales consultant (DSC) approaching a young mom at a park where they had both taken their children to play. Almost as soon as they had introduced themselves, the DSC stuck a catalog in the other mom’s hand and began sharing her latest hostess incentives. That poor prospect couldn’t get out of that park fast enough!
Now, I’ll admit that there are a few (very few!) people who might could pull this off. But to the majority of us, this approach simply comes on too strong. This kind of behavior can not only offend, it can literally turn a new customer off so badly that they will never be reached by our products. Attempting a sale without becoming better acquainted makes the DSC appear gauche and insensitive. It’s better to build a relationship with a prospect first, then let them know of your business.
Put yourself in the prospect’s shoes. You’re at the park with your child. Enjoying a beautiful, sunny day. A nicely dressed woman walks up to you and asks if she can sit on your bench. She smiles. You smile and invite her to sit. Immediately she pulls a catalog out of her oversized purse and thrusts it toward you. “Hi, I’m Mary. I’m a direct sales consultant for XYZ Company. I’d love to show you the latest items in our catalog.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but I quickly start looking for an exit in a situation like that!
But consider, on the other hand… this same nicely dressed woman walks up to you and asks if she can sit on your bench. She smiles. You smile and invite her to sit. She says, “Hi, I’m Mary. What’s your name?” You begin to chat. She tells you about her kids. She asks about yours. You talk about where you live, hobbies, husbands, work. You spend an enjoyable few minutes getting to know each other.
Before long you look at your watch and realize it’s time to go. As you stand, Mary stands also.
“I have really enjoyed talking with you,” she says. And you believe her. She reaches into her purse and pulls out a business card. “Give me a call sometime when you’re free. Maybe we can go to lunch,” she says as she hands you her card.
You notice she’s a consultant for XYZ Company. You say to her, “Wow. I’ve been wanting to see a recent catalog. Do you have one with you?” Being the good consultant she is, she pulls one out of her oversized purse and hands it to you. “Sure,” she says. “Look it over and call me if you need anything.”
Totally different scenario. No pressure. No feeling of imposition. You’ve just met a new friend and she happens to be a sales consultant for XYZ Company. What a pleasant coincidence.
Which of these situations do you think would create a loyal customer? The second one, of course!
Yes, there are times when it’s appropriate to hand someone a catalog right after you’ve met. And you’ll have to use your own judgment as to when that may be. But be sensitive to the feelings of others and if you see them begin to back away, slow down. Those times are the exception rather than the rule. More often than not, we need to get to know our prospects – at least a little – before coming out with a sales pitch. Build friendships first. Customers will naturally follow.
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.
I started my food business in September of last year. What has been hard for me is that everyone loves the products. I just need to get them in the mood to buy. I mailed out flyers and have sent e-mails but I did not get a huge response. I want to advertise and keep in touch with my clients but I do not want to be spending all my money on that with little to no return. I have some clients that use the products everyday and have made it part of their grocery lists, and some that only use them on special occasions. I need to get more of the first clients….
The key to this is creating customer loyalty. We all strive for customer satisfaction, but do we create loyalty? We want our customers to come back to us again and again and remember us, our business and our names when they need a product or service. Remember, it is much easier to keep a customer rather than find new ones.
Here are some tips. These are based on a gourmet food business, but can be tailored for any direct sales business.
*Follow up with your customers 2 – 5 days after the initial sale. Ask them if they have any questions or need suggestions on how to use the products.
*Ask for an email address so you can put them in your email club. Email club members should get specials, discounts, recipes, and more. Tell them to expect this newsletter once a month around the 15th. Now make sure you do this! If they are expecting it, they will look for it.
*Follow up again via phone 30 – 45 days after the sale. By now they have used the product up or have fallen in love with it and will want more. A quick phone call saying “Hi, this is Louann with Megan’s Pantry. I wanted to see if you needed any more products. I’m offering a special today…with any $50 order you can get a free spinach dip (or something like this)
* Follow up via phone before major holidays. You’d be amazed at how many people want/need products before Memorial Day, Mother’s Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter etc
*Let your customers know where you will be. Are you doing a craft fair or an expo. Tell them this. Pick up the phone and let everyone know you will be at the XYZ expo on Saturday June 1st. Be sure to leave your phone number in case they have questions
*Create a buyers club. As a member, they can get free shipping with any order over $50 or for every $200 spent they’ll receive a full size product of their choice. Be creative. See what works in your area, but remember to keep it simple.
You’ll notice I recommend using the phone rather than mailings. You will have a much better success rate spending time on the phone rather than via mail. Think about all the things you get in the mail and TOSS. Or they end up in a pile of things to do later. A quick phone call develops a personal relationship that will take your business to the next level! Plus phone calls are practically free, where sending things in the mail gets pretty expensive very quickly.
Spend 5 hours a month (That’s only 1.25 hours a week) on the phone making these calls and you will see your customer loyalty SOAR.