Here’s something to think about: the goal of your marketing and sales teams isn’t to make sales—it’s to create loyal customers (“brand advocates,” as some would have it). Why? Because if yours is like most businesses, about 80% of your sales come from just 20% of your customers (the so-called “80/20 rule“)—your best customers, the ones who trust and believe in what you do, the products you sell, and the services you offer them.
This isn’t of course to say that an individual sale is a bad thing—rather, it means that every time a customer makes an initial purchase, it’s an opportunity to create a long-term relationship with that customer. These are the customers who not only contribute the bulk of your sales revenues, but also tell their friends and family about you, and, if you take the time to effectively nurture this new relationship, multiply sales exponentially. As Marketing Insider Group puts it:
“What one person says about your brand, whether through online reviews, social media or even while having coffee with a friend, has the ability to convert like nothing else. It is the customers who are more than satisfied and who are motivated to share their positive experience with your brand who become your biggest fans – and your greatest asset.”
How to Turn First Sales into Loyal Customers
The question, of course, is what strategies you need to put in place to ensure that every first sale becomes an opportunity to create loyal customers. Every business is different, but some strategies will work for almost all, including the following 5:
- Welcome them with open arms: if you bought a product online—and nothing happened—you’d probably think something like “wow, talk about ingratitude.” If, on the other hand, you received a thank you email within 5 minutes, one that welcomed you to the business, recommended other, similar products and promised to be there for you whenever you experienced a problem, you’d be more likely to want to buy more products. This is the mindset you want to take on for your first sale.
- Automate your communications: if your marketing is successful, your business is going to grow. That’s a good thing, but it will make it more difficult to provide the personalized service which has become a hallmark of your company. To effectively nurture new customers, you need a powerful automated crm tool. This will ensure your ability to respond in real time when new customers take important actions, like making a purchase or downloading content.
- Offer rewards and incentives: one of the best ways to nurture your new relationships and show your gratitude is to give tangible evidence that you consider these customers important. And one of the best ways to do that is by offering them rewards and incentives (like discounts) based on what and how much they buy. You can do this using a tiered approach in which the extent of the rewards you offer is aligned with how much new customers spend.
- Get feedback: if you want to know what kinds of service your customers care about the most, ask them. Maybe it’s customer discounts, or perhaps it’s free shipping. The point is, it’s always better to have reliable data than to guess. If you want to know how to serve your customers more effectively, conduct a customer survey—and make sure you get the help you need to construct it and analyze the results for your first sale.
- Ask for their help: if your customers like the service you provide, they might be willing to help you spread the word about that outstanding service—but sometimes you need to ask for their help. Ask your new customers if they’re satisfied with the service you provide, and (assuming they are) if they’re willing to provide a customer review or referral for you. You can sweeten the pot by giving them incentives—like offering a special discount for every new customer they refer to your business.
Customer loyalty—the kind that creates new sales opportunities for your business—doesn’t happen by itself. You need to work smart to obtain it even past your first sale. Take the time to learn what your customers care about most, and then deliver those services. When they do something nice for you (like adding to your revenues), show your gratitude by doing something nice for them. It’s time and effort well worth the investment.