A technician at a mobility equipment supplier was servicing the motorized wheelchair of a long-time customer and noticed it was a brand-new model. “Where did you buy the chair?” he asked the customer. “At the health care supply store on the other side of town,” the customer replied. The technician paused and then asked, “Well, why didn’t you buy the chair from us?” The customer replied, “I didn’t know you sold wheelchairs.”
Most business owners would likely agree that selling to existing customers is much easier than finding new ones. Yet many companies continue to squander potential sales to long-term, satisfied customers simply because they do not create awareness of all their products and services.
It seems puzzling that the long-time customer in our example would not know that his wheelchair service provider also sold wheelchairs. But when you look a little deeper, it is easy to understand why.
The repair customer always visited the repair shop, which had a separate entrance. While the customer’s chair was being repaired, he sat in the waiting area, which provided a variety of magazines but no product brochures or other promotional materials. The customer had no idea that a new sales facility was on the other side of the building until the technician asked about the new wheelchair.
Are you losing business from long-term customers because of a similar disconnect? To find out, ask yourself two fundamental questions:
- Are your customers buying everything they need from you? To find the answer, you must thoroughly understand your customers’ needs. Identify your top tier of customers — say, the 20 percent who provide 80 percent of your revenue. What do they buy from you? What else might they need? Do not just take orders from them; learn everything you can about their missions, strategic plans, and operations.
- Are your customers aware of everything you offer? The quickest way to learn this is, simply, to ask. Instruct your salespeople to regularly inquire about whether customers would be interested in products or services they have never bought. Also, add flyers, brochures, or catalogs to orders when you fulfill them. Consider building greater awareness by hosting free lunches or festive corporate events to educate your customers on the existence and value of your products and services.
If you have long-term customers, you must be doing something right and that is to your company’s credit. But, remember, it is not out of the question that you could lose any one of those customers if they are unaware of your full spectrum of products and services. That is an open opportunity for a competitor.
By taking steps to raise awareness of your products and services, you will put yourself in a better position to increase sales and profitability. Our firm can help you identify your strongest revenue sources and provide further ideas for enhancing them.