Generating Repeat Business in 10 Minutes a Day

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on September 27, 2010 in: Business - Plain & Simple, Tips in 10, Tools & Resources

Achieving profitability and then maintaining it is a daily battle for business owners. Driving up income and driving down expenses should be a two-pronged approach you take for every activity and business decision you make in the day.

Unfortunately, generating business often costs money – and depending on the channel you’re marketing through, it can cost a lot of money. You might need advertising support, staff, and phone lines, just to name a few. As the potential for added revenue rises, so can many of your expenses.

But there are a few ways that you can generate more business without an equivalent spend in costly advertising or time-consuming cold calling effort. One very effective way to get inexpensive business is from repeat business – that is, getting previous customers to buy from you again (and again and again).

It costs less because, obviously, you don’t have to perform all the same steps to take them through your sales cycle from “never-heard-of-you-before” to “ready-to-buy”. Of course, there will be some relationship building and marketing effort, even with repeat buyers, but it is quite a bit less.

There is another advantage, too: Improved cash flow. By generating repeat business you can usually accelerate your sales cycle to have them buy sooner. For example, if it takes you six months of continuous contact to convince a cold prospect to become a customer, it will probably take you substantially less (one-half of that time, or better) to reconnect with a customer and sell them something else.

And it can be done in only 10 minutes a day.

You’ll need to plan what you want to sell. (And some of you may need to find something else to sell!)

Once you have a plan in place, you’ll need to implement it. This doesn’t have to take more than 10 minutes a day, but you can spend longer on it if you want, or you might want to delegate some of the effort.

The Plan

Here’s what to do in the first ten minutes:

Start with a list of your customers and rank them from best to worst. I realize that this is a subjective ranking. For most of you, it will be “most profitable”. For some of you it might mean “most frequently buys from me”. For some of you it will be “most dollars spent in a purchase”. And for some it might mean “most loyal”. Whatever you measure as being the best, put them on top. (BONUS: I have included a spreadsheet template to list this information – feel free to download it now.) Include a list of their purchases, if possible. You should have something like this in a spreadsheet somewhere already (and if you don’t, maybe that should be your first step!)

That’s enough for the first 10 minutes of day one. When you return the next day to spend 10 more minutes on the project, do this: Divide up your customer list into 5 segments of 20% each. Mark the segments A, B, C, D, E. You now have a segmented list of customers – from best to worst – that you can use in all kinds of marketing efforts.

Put down your pens because you’ve done enough for today.

Start Implementing!

You have a plan; it’s time to do something with it. Now, take 10 minutes each day to contact your customers through email or phone. Before you reach out to them, figure out how you can add value to their lives. Is there a relevant article you saw somewhere that they would find informative? Did you think of a new way for them to use your product? Did you meet someone who might be able to buy from them?

It may seem that finding this high-value information is a lot of work per contact, but when you keep this “adding value” as your constant mindset, you’ll soon discover that you stumble across information and resources and contacts all the time that you can pass along to add value to your customers. Not only that, if you find a few good pieces of value-adding ideas that you can share with numerous contacts, there’s a good chance that it will still be less time per contact than if you were to pick up the phone and start cold calling!

Once you have some value-added material to pass along, contact your customers. Reach out to 2 or 3 “A” list customers and 1 “B” list customer each day. (If your list is really big, there’s a good chance that other people in your organization have had more contact than you with these customers and they might be better suited to take on some of the task). Each day, work through your 2-3 A-list customers and your 1 B-list customer.

Once a week dial in a couple C-list customers. Once a quarter contact your D-list customers (and you can probably contact them just through email). There’s a good chance that your E-list customers are not going to be profitable enough for you to get more business from them. (In fact, I’m willing to bet that you looked at many of the customers on your E-list and thought “I hope I don’t have to contact them!”).

As you work through your list, always be on the lookout to move people from one segment to the one above it. In other words, add value to people’s lives and aim to move them up the list. When you’ve contacted everyone within a segment, start over. Based on the timing, you will probably get through the A-segment twice as fast as the B-segment, which you’ll probably get through twice as fast as the C-segment. Once you’ve added some positive value to your customer’s lives, you’ll be in a position to make an occasional offer.

Have conversations with them! Explore their purchasing habits and see if anyone else is providing them with the products or services that you could provide them.

A lot of this can be automated (which will take more than ten minutes to set up but less than ten minutes daily to maintain) if you use an autoresponder or email marketing system. Systems like AWeber.com, Streamsend.com, iContact.com, and ConstantContact.com are sites you can count on. I wouldn’t use this as an exclusive way to contact your A or B segments, but it would work to mix it in with some face-to-face or over-the-phone contact.

Now a couple words of caution:

Don’t spam your contacts! If you have less than a couple dozen contacts, it will seem strange to suddenly start calling them every week, week-in and week-out, especially if you sell smaller-ticket items. Use your judgment here and think about a reasonable about of time to contact someone. Then, contact the A segment that much, your B segment slightly less, and your C segment slightly less still.

And, make sure that you add value! If you’re “just touching base”, that’s okay but not a great sales tactic. It might be okay to do that from time to time, but make sure that you are legitimately taking an interest in your customers and what they are doing. More importantly, see if there is a way to help them do their job better or run their business more effectively. Do this first, and occasionally offer them additional sales, but keep your focus on helping them.

Heather Recommends:

I love working with coaches, freelancers, and entrepreneurs to help them become more successful. If you'd like to improve your business, find out how I can help.

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