Lisbiz strategies: Staying in touch with quality customers

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Volume 28/Number 3; July 21/28, 2014

By Lisbeth Calandrino

Every business likes the excitement of finding new customers. With new customers, salespeople can engage in the “fantasy” of what the customer is worth. Business owners ask me the same question: “How do we get more customers?” Rarely do they ask, “How do we leverage the customers we have?”

For years I have been working on touch points I believe are essential to the flooring retailer for staying in touch with his customers. My idea has always been to build a CRM program that highlights the two most important customer touch points: installation and floor care. Installation is critical to our business, and the installer is the last person the customer sees; why not make that component memorable?

I needed to find someone who had a system that could get out my message. While searching for a CRM program online, I met up with Greg Incardona, vice president of Follow Your Customer, a CRM company. Incardona’s experience with other industries supported my theory of “staying connected” and that 85% of all new business comes from referrals.

“Staying in touch with your sold customers is the way to bring in referrals,” Incardona said. “Acquiring new customers can cost five times more than satisfying and retaining current customers and friends. In addition, the customer profitability rate tends to increase over the life of a retained customer.”

According to the Customer Satisfaction Measurement Association, over 90% of very satisfied customers are happy to refer family and friends back to their sales professional. My experience is that businesses rely on the “customer’s memory” to funnel in new customers.  The big problem is after one year, less than 28% can remember the salesperson’s name!

Incardona said it takes 14-18 touches per annum to maintain “top of mind” awareness with your sold customers. Out of these 18 messages only four to six should be selling messages. The “touches” in between are used to create brand awareness and build the company image. No one wants to be haunted, but most of us are happy to get useful information about the product we have purchased. Customers are bombarded daily from your competitors with messages on what product to buy and why they should buy from them. You need to break the “customer’s cycle” with the other messages so you’re the salesperson they’re connected to.

We all know the sales process. The customer comes into your store, and if she doesn’t buy the salesperson will follow up until she buys or no longer seems interested. At that point, the salesperson gives up because he is afraid he’ll be considered a “stalker.” Fortunately, the customer leaving doesn’t mean she is lost for good.

The key is to create the right messages and have them go to the target customer. Incardona and I have created a customized floor covering retail system designed to not only keep you in touch with the customer, but will get you back into the customer’s home. This way, you can check on the product you’ve sold to her, see if she needs any additional flooring or if she has a referral for you.

We all know it’s impossible for a salesperson to stay on top of his or her customers; a personalized CRM system can do the work for you.  For information on how CRM programs work, check out followyourcustomer.com or contact Incardona directly at gincardona.gi@gmail.com. You can also connect with me to find out more about a customized CRM for your flooring business.

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