Monday, December 7, 2015

Follow Up

One of the biggest mistakes network marketers make is failing to follow up – with leads, with new customers, with past customers, and with inactive customers. Treating transactions as isolated events rather than a chain of interactions means you see your customers as commodities, and they will view you the same way. In this post, I’m going to address why you need to follow up with each of these categories:

  1. Following up with leads. You’ve got an inbox full of contact information from a promotion you posted on your website. You send out a generic informational email and ask them to contact you if interested. Now what? Well, if you’re like most network marketers, you’ll do nothing. That’s right – nothing! Most people seem to think their job is done when they have collected the names and sent out an email, but that one contact by itself may mean nothing. You need to actually continue to contact the names collected to try to convert them from a lead to a customer or business partner. Studies show it takes an average of 7 contacts before a person makes up their mind.  Don't be too aggressive.  But do stay in touch and continue to share the benefits of your business and your products.  
  2. Following up with new customers. The time when a little extra effort can make the biggest impact is right after a new customer has purchased with you. They may be feeling a little unsure of their purchase and hearing from you at this vulnerable time will definitely reassure them that they made the right decision. It’s also a perfect time to head off any problems or answer questions – and to see if they regret NOT purchasing something they were thinking about!
  3. Following up with past customers. Don’t assume that your customer will contact you directly when they run out of something or want to make another purchase. Most people are lazy and will just as easily buy from a competitor or from the mall or other retail shop if you don’t make the effort to contact them. More than one direct sales rep has lost a customer to the mall because they weren’t in front of the customer when a re-order or replacement was needed!
  4. Following up with inactive customers. If you haven’t heard from a previous customer for a while, don’t assume everything is okay, or that they would contact you if they needed something. Make the effort to phone them to see where they are. Do they need a new item? Are they unhappy with a previous purchase? Did they lose your number? Whatever the situation, you’re better off hearing from them directly than letting them die a slow death because you couldn’t be bothered to get back in touch.
Following up – and following up when you say you will – is a critical part of good direct sales. Many experts recommend the three days – three weeks – three months approach, following up at each of those intervals after the initial contact. While that’s a good rule of thumb, even better is working with your customers and your unique business to do what’s right for them and for you.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Know Your Customers

One of the benefits that small businesses – including direct salespeople – have over large, big-box retailers, is the ability to get to know your customers on a more intimate level. But to really use that relationship to maximize your profits, you need to go beyond first-name basis. You need to know them as a friend, and that takes work. Here’s how you can establish a relationship that pays big dividends:

  1. Make it authentic. It’s obvious when someone is being nice to you or expressing interest only to make a sale. That’s the last thing you want your customers to think, so your interest in them has to come from a place of true service. Yes, you’re hoping you’ll make money, but your real motivation needs to be one of service. Keep your eyes on their hearts, not on their wallets.
  2. Start a customer information file. Whether it’s a box of index cards you jot notes on, a computer program, or a binder, have a way to track your customers, what they order, and other pertinent information. At a minimum you should know their family members’ names, their birthday, and their contact information, as well as their preferred means of contact (mail, email, phone, etc.).
  3. Contact them regularly. Your customers should hear from you at a minimum of once a month. Any less, and they will forget about you. Depending on your business, you may find that a once-a-week schedule is preferable. That doesn’t mean you need to call all your customers every week! Your schedule might look like this:
    Week One – Phone call
    Week Two – Emailed newsletter with tips
    Week Three – Postcard reminder
    Week Four – Email announcement of special sale or product

    Many of these can be done in bulk, making it just as easy to send 100 as one. To make sure the information you send is welcome, make it useful. Tips, resources, savings, ways to use the products they already have… these are all wonderful options.
  4. Use product delivery to increase connection. If your business is one where you actually deliver product to your customer, you have one more opportunity to further your relationship. When your customer comes to pick up his or her order, or you swing by to drop it off, this is a great unstructured chance to get to know them better. There’s no stress because you’re not in the middle of a sales presentation, and you already know your customer likes you because they purchased from you! Use this opportunity to find out how the customer plans on using their purchases, what additional questions they have, and how your business fits into their overall life. If you visit their home, you may have the opportunity to meet their family and get a glimpse of their life. Take advantage of it!
Your customers are better than gold. Treat them that way, and you’ll enjoy the benefits of a positive relationship, both personally and professionally.