Because I work with high-achieving women in business, I always instill that it is very important to generate leads from existing customers if you want to grow your small business. Existing customers are the lifeblood of many small businesses because they provide a steady stream of new business at little to no cost.
Studies have shown that you have a 60 to 70 percent chance of selling to an existing customer and, in addition to buying from you or using your services, those happy customers also can send others your way.
Getting leads from existing customers cuts customer acquisition costs immensely, so it works especially well if you, like many small businesses, operate with a small market budget.
Below are some great ways a small business owner can generate leads from existing customers:
- Treat customers like friends.People naturally want to tell others about products and services they love, so exceeding the customer’s expectation is the first step toward landing referrals from your existing customers. The key is to view every client as a door to many other clients down the road.
- Ask for the referral.While providing a great product might get you some referrals, you are leaving future monies on the table if you don’t speak up. Don’t just say thanks; be sure to have a script prepared in your mind to ask for the referral you have earned. If you do not ask for the referral, you are not likely to get it. Say something like this: “I’m glad that you’re pleased with my work. I’d really appreciate it if you would pass my name along to anyone else you know who would be interested in my services – can I leave some business cards with you?”
- Go the extra mile for your customer requests.If you go out of your way to help a client or customer with a special request, they will be more likely to send business your way.
- Nurture relationships with select customers.The 80/20 principle states that 80% of results come from 20% of the effort. Apply this to generating leads from existing customers by singling out a few customers likely to send a lot of referrals your way. How do you spot such a client who you should nurture a relationship with. Maybe they’re your ideal client and you want more like them. Or it could be their personality and connections. Look for that warm client who loves your business and has outstanding networking and people skills. As a small business owner, spend time developing trust with those clients to gain referrals.
- Get in the habit of boosting their businesses.If you do B2B as all or part of your small business, consider promoting the businesses of your customers. When something great happens with one of you B2B share it on Facebook with your fans.
- Offer incentives to both your existing and new customers.Money and gifts talk, and that applies when you’re looking for leads. People love to get rewarded for their referrals, and are happy to help their friends earn goodies as well.
- Follow up automatically.Some small businesses send their client a feedback questionnaire after the project is finished. Final question: “would you consider referring my service to someone else who would benefit from the same level of service that I provided to you. Nine out of ten times the response will be yes.
- Show your appreciation for leads.If a customer does give you a referral that leads to new business, make it clear how much you appreciate their help. I personally send a handwritten thank you note along with a gift basket.
Make these techniques a regular part of your marketing repertoire, and you can generate new business without investing much time, effort or money.
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As a reminder, for career and businesswomen it’s always about – ‘Results. Uniqueness. Differentiation.’ I call this your ‘RUD’.
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