Repeat Business - Here's How To Make It Happen

Winning repeat business is - without doubt - the most cost effective and efficient way of adding to your bottom line. If you have to go out and find new customers each time you want to make profit, you also have to start at the beginning of the sales cycle.

However, if you already have a paying customer on board that knows and trusts your service, it's a lot faster and easier to make a second sale.

In saying that, it's not always that straight-forward to win repeat business. Things can go wrong and the unforeseen can always happen. However, here are a few things to consider that will make your chances of getting another order much more likely.

Repeat Business - Here's How To Make It Happen
Provide An Absolutely Stellar Service

Clearly, the best way to give your client the impression that you are worth doing business with again is to deliver an excellent service the first time. This will go a long way to instilling confidence in your customer that you are safe bet for the long term.

Over and above making sure that your product and/or service actually does what you say it will do, there are a few things you can do to make sure that your client is happy with what they have purchased:

-   Do 10% more than you said you would (at no extra cost)
-   Complete the project/deliver the product earlier than stated
-   Fix something you notice while completing the project (at no extra cost)

All of this really falls under the banner of 'under promising and over delivering' - this is a really powerful way of impressing your customer. You can read more about this concept over here.

Focus On Selling Services That Require Maintenance

One way you can virtually guarantee repeat orders is to focus your efforts on selling services that require maintenance, or monthly work. The effort required to make a one off sale or a sale that needs 3 or 4 months worth of upkeep is largely the same, although the difference to your bottom line is huge. Therefore, it makes sense that most of your focus should go toward selling these services.

Here are a few examples of projects that would need a few months work:

-   Medium/long term web marketing projects
-   Monthly bookkeeping services
-   HR (human resources) management

Contrast the above with the following types of services, which would be in the 'one-off' category:

-   Website design package
-   End of year accounts audit
-   HR employment contract preparation

As you can see, the kinds of services are similar, but the fact that some are one-off and some are repeat business is a significant difference to your business. It doesn't take much more effort to shoot for the repeat set up, so that should be your initial target.

Incentivise Your Customer To Make Another Purchase

In cases where ongoing maintenance isn't an option (with products, for example), it's a good idea to come up with incentives that will make your customer want to purchase with you again.

Again, you'll have to make sure that the initial sale either met or exceeded customer expectations first, although here are a few ideas that will help raise the likely-hood of another sale:

-   Time sensitive voucher codes
-   'Buy 2 get your 3rd free' type of deals
-   Offering 'Gold-type' packages for 50% off after purchase of a 'Silver-type' package

You hopefully get the idea here. Once someone has made a purchase with you they're in a prime position to make a secondary one - how you try and achieve this will vary according to your own business and customers, although the three methods mentioned above tend to work very well in the majority of cases.

Incentive deals don't have to be offered instantly, although they should probably be offered within a few days/a week for maximum effect.

Think About Complementary Products And Services

Another area that can yield excellent returns is that of looking into how you can promote complementary products and services to your existing clients. Here are a few examples as to how you can achieve this:

-   If a client is in need of a website redesign, do they also need their SEO taken care of?
-   If a customer comes to you for annual bookkeeping services, do they also need payroll taken care of?
-   What about a customer that purchases a garden shed from you - do they also need a set of garden tools?

These are all basic examples, although hopefully you get the point - completing one sale can often naturally lead onto another. The key is to find out exactly what your customer needs and to understand how you can meet that need.

Of course, the trick here is to make sure that you don't come across as pushy or over-zealous - that'll just kill the relationship with your customer. Also, it's important to understand that the second sale might not come immediately - it could come weeks, months or years after the initial deal. 

For that reason, it's an excellent idea to ensure that you have a solid lead nurturing process in place. You can read more about that here.

Become Great At Writing Sales Proposals

This one is more skill-based. A well crafted sales proposal can mean the difference between a foot in the door and complete rejection. Although you will technically already have a foot in the door after your first sale, it's always best to treat each deal as a new one and to approach the customer as professionally as you would the first time you pitched to them.

If you can put together a second proposal that shows you have a complete grasp of your customer's current situation as well as their problems, you'll be well on your way to proving that you're a credible partner for the long term.

This is especially true if you can spot a real problem that your client wasn't even aware of. For example, if you were working on a Human Resources project for your new client (interviewing job candidates for example) and you noticed that employee contracts didn't meet current legislation, you're second proposal could focus on this.

That way, you're solving a real business problem for your customer while securing that all important second deal - sounds like an ideal win-win situation to me.

For more on writing sales proposals, please see this post.

In Sum

Focusing on learning how to win repeat business isn't a dark art. All it requires is that you commit to focusing on making it very appealing for your client to do do business with you again.

To recap, here are 5 ways in which you can do that:

1)   Provide a stellar service to your client the first time
2)   Focus on selling service that require maintenance
3)   Think about incentives that'll appeal to your client
4)   Think about how you can promote complementary services
5)   Become great at writing sales proposals

Thanks for reading,

By Alan MacDougall

Got a nagging marketing question? Ask me here.

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Revenue Builder is a small business marketing strategy advice blog, written to help small business owners and startups maximise sales revenue.
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