How to Grow Your Business by Building, Maintaining and Improving Customer Relationships

Writing hand that wrote ‘it’s all about relationships’ on a glass window

Acquiring new customers is a good thing, but growing your business is easier and more cost effective when you increase sales to existing customers. To accomplish this, strategically focus on your customer relationships and improve the customer experience. Sounds simple, right? After all, you’ve already acquired the customer; all you have to do is keep them and expand your working relationship. But with so much competition vying for “your” customers, you’ll need to work hard to earn their loyalty.

Here’s how you can make it easier to grow your business by building, maintaining and improving your existing customer relationships:

First, Understand the Value of Customer Loyalty

Research from various sources* indicates it costs 5 times more to convert a new customer than to sell additional solutions to an existing customer. Furthermore, your probability of converting a new customer may be as low as 5% on average while your probability of selling additional solutions to an existing customer can be as high as 70%. And yet, too many companies focus most of their time, energy and marketing dollars on new customer acquisition while taking current customers for granted. In doing so, they neglect customer satisfaction and jeopardize customer loyalty.

Make no mistake: a satisfied customer is more inclined to be a loyal customer and buy more. This can be true even if the customer sees value – typically economic value – in changing solution providers. All things being equal, why are customers predisposed to staying put? Because they know change is stressful. They know change is time-consuming. They know change is harder than not changing. Nonetheless, if a customer doesn’t feel well-served or appreciated, change becomes appealing.

Ultimately, because your competition is working hard to lure your customers away, you must work hard to keep them. So, here are some ways to help ensure customer loyalty by building, maintaining and improving customer relationships:

Know Your Customer – and Keep Them Engaged

At some point, by some means, you acquired that customer. Great! Now what? If you focus more on attracting and acquiring new customers, it can be easy to take your current customers for granted. But by ignoring them, it’s also easy to lose sight of what makes your customers unique and uniquely important to your company.

To avoid this trap, go back to the basics. Start with your CRM system. Review your customer information and keep your CRM updated as the relationship unfolds over time. Refer to your customer data before making frequent customer interactions. Communicate regularly, but don’t rely solely on mass media. Data confirms that customers love being treated as an individual, not a number on a spreadsheet. So, personalize your communications with direct, one-to-one messaging. Send a handwritten follow-up card. Pick up the phone. Visit face-to-face.

Perhaps most importantly, don’t approach customer interaction as an opportunity to sell. Instead, ask questions. Seek feedback and input. Listen, relate, engage. Have a conversation. Your customer will be surprised, delighted, and more likely to buy from you again if your goal is to provide value. They’ll also be less likely to jump ship when a competitor comes calling. Remember, you don’t want your customer to feel like the only time you want to talk to them is when you are trying to sell to them.

Provide Exceptional Customer Service

It should be obvious, but don’t underestimate the value of superior customer service. Anything less opens the door to a customer defection. Excellent customer service is easier if you are truly engaged because you will know what excellence looks like to your customer.

To deliver superior service, deliver on your promises. Follow through. Understand that details matter, so make the effort to “sweat the small stuff.” Hard work? Sure, but it all becomes easier if you adopt a “servant leadership” mindset. As I note in my book, Beyond the Mountaintop, Observations on Selling, Living, and Achieving, “servant-leaders gain followers, earn respect and attract success because of their outward focus” and a “desire to give from the heart.” By adopting this attitude in your sales and customer service efforts, you can turn a strictly business relationship (one that is transactional in nature) to a relationship built on trust and shared goals. Which brings me to the next strategy for growing your business by customer relationship building…

Become a Partner in Your Customer’s Success

Customers do business with people and organizations they know, like and trust. To earn that trust, you must show you care about your customer and their success. You must support, you must be a resource, you must be their advocate!

If you – and your business solutions – can help your customer solve problems, serve their customers, and become a market leader – then you will be more than a vendor; you will be a trusted partner. And customers are far less likely to abandon a trusted partner, even if it means saving a few dollars.

The Bottom Line:

While the value of current customers should be clear, and while the costs of acquiring customers can greatly exceed the costs of selling more to current customers, research has shown that nearly half of companies have a greater focus on customer acquisition while less than one in five focus on retention*. Chances are, then, you have a golden opportunity – a cost-effective opportunity – to grow your business by focusing on building, maintaining and improving existing customer relationships.

At Sales Xceleration, our outsourced sales consultants know the importance of nurturing existing customer relationships to maximize revenue growth while minimizing sales expenses. To learn more, download our infographic here. You can also contact your local Outsourced Sales VP to help you build, maintain and improve customer relationships to maximize revenue and profit. Or simply call us at (844) 874-7253 to start a conversation based on your customer and sales growth goals.

* Data compiled by Invesp from various sources.