Get the Most Out of Your Customers

Chances are, you already have the elements to accomplish an increase in sales, such as a sales force, customer database, delivery system and customer service department. Make sure you're using these elements wisely.

To get the most profit from established customers, here are seven ways to take aim:

1. Boost customer awareness. Your company may have products or services that your customers need but they don't even know you sell them. Make sure your clientele knows about everything you offer.

Here are just a few ways to use your current resources to build volume:

2. Take a tip from doctors. Customers often have a vague idea of their needs. Help them see the big picture and provide a solution. Think of a doctor's visit. You don't know what's wrong but it hurts. The doc asks a few questions, perhaps gives you a prescription and the next thing you know, you're cured. It's the same with your customers. Help them hone in on their needs and then fix them. Many businesses say the best ideas come from their customers.

3. Build relationships. You probably know far more about your prospects and customers than you realize. Capitalize on that knowledge. Maintain contact, find out what they read, what interests them, and what groups they belong to. Tell them a joke, wish them a happy birthday or ask how the kids are doing. The more they know you, the more they trust you. The more you know them, the better you can judge what they need, how much they spend and how often they shop.

4. Stand in your customers' shoes. Remember your own experiences as a customer. What frustrates you? Do you ever feel like sales people aren't paying attention to your needs and don't seem to have a solution? Treat your customers the way you want to be treated.

5. Bundle, bundle, bundle. Wrap your products and services together so the customers have the idea they're getting more for less. Offer special orders that provide a wider selection of products. Cross selling additional products to existing customers is an easy way to increase revenue. Coach your staff in the relationship between value and pricing so they communicate these differences to customers.

6. Motivate employees. Do your compensation procedures encourage sales people, distributors and customer service personnel to grow accounts? Base commissions on gross profits, rather than gross sales. Consider paying commissions after payment has been received.

7. Integrate your staff. Your sales reps, delivery staff and customer service employees all come into contact with your customers. Get them on the same wavelength. Hold brainstorming sessions to develop more revenue generating opportunities. Monitor key sales and customer service representatives and pass their skills on to the rest of your staff through training.

You spent time and money setting up an infrastructure in your sales operations. Maximize that structure. Use it efficiently and effectively and you'll see your bottom line grow by leaps and bounds.

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