Guest Column | July 18, 2019

5 Steps To Encourage Existing Customers To Buy New Products

By Sparky Farwell, CSS Group at CCI Systems

Selling Managed Services To Nonprofits

5 Steps To Encourage Existing Customers To Buy New Products

My company onboarded a new contact center customer in November, providing a basic Tier 1 service with a bit of Tier 2 to help eliminate connection problems when taking calls from subscribers. Every month, the company’s COO and I talk about how technology is working, but we also share family news and talk about our mutual love of running. The COO competes in 100-mile races; I’ve completed many 10K and OCR races.

After catching up during our May conversation, she asked, “Is there anything else you can do for us?” “Yes,” I replied, “you can let us tackle your Tier 3 services.” Afterwards, II put together pricing for the Tier 3 service and she agreed to expand our contract, nearly doubling our revenue from this customer.

This likely wouldn’t have been possible without the rapport We’d built over the previous six months. I’m in operations, not sales, but I often feel like a business relationship development manager.   

Building strong business relationships with customers is key to selling additional product offerings. Think of a relationship mindset as the foundation and these five steps as the walls and roof that transform it into something built to last.

Step 1 – Listen To Your Customers

In “Competitive Differentiation: 3 Can’t Miss Strategies for Service Providers,” I mentioned the importance of taking the time to learn about your clients and their needs. It’s far less expensive to keep a current customer by offering additional services or products than it is to acquire a new customer.   

Asking customers about their challenges, opportunities and growth plans will help you answer the all-important question: Do we have the right solution for the customer? Ever buy something at a store because of pressure from a salesperson and regret it later? Your customers will, too. You’re not in the business of selling customers a product just to make a sale. You’re in the business of eliminating distractions and solving problems by selling exactly what the customer needs. Make recommendations based on your customer’s needs such as leveraging a comprehensive monitoring platform like LogicMonitor’s to help them focus less on problem-solving and more on evolving their businesses.

One of my company’s corporate values is service – listen to, understand and work hard for others. You can’t sell a customer additional services if you can’t explain how it will address their challenges. And you won’t know those unless you ask.

Step 2 – Talk Regularly

How often should you check in with customers? Your mileage may vary, but daily is too frequent and once a month is not frequent enough. Communication should be regular enough to address the customer’s product questions right away and explore additional product offerings as soon as makes sense for the customer.

When it comes to choosing your communication method, opt for the most personal one possible. If you can’t meet in person, talk via a video chat. If you can’t talk via video chat, talk on the phone. If you can’t talk on the phone, email. But know that if you can’t see the customer, you’ll lose the subtle nuances of body language.

Step 3 – Get Personal

You aren’t forming relationships with faceless corporate entities. You’re forging relationships with people. Instead of talking only about business, use calls with customers to get to know them. That’s how I learned about that COO’s passion for ultra-marathons. Ask about a customer’s latest motorcycling adventure, new baby or a recent Hawaiian vacation. It’s human and it shows you care.

Don’t neglect the details. When a customer shares a milestone, such as a work anniversary, on LinkedIn, you could click the pre-written “Congratulations” option. But it’s more genuine to take a few seconds to write a short personal note. They’ll appreciate the extra effort.   

That applies to previous customers, too. I continue to connect with them via text, phone call and email. Do I hope my company wins its business back? Absolutely. But the only way that’ll happen is if they know we care.

Step 4 – Tell Customers About New Products And Capabilities

We don't live in a static world and technology is constantly evolving. Smart companies adapt and are continually looking to build a better mousetrap. At my company, we offer multiple solutions, but we also innovate new solutions and tailor solutions to individual customers. The need to share new products, services or upgrades is continual.

You can’t sell a product or additional service if a customer doesn’t know to ask for it so share product news in your regular calls. The payoff may come in surprising ways. Perhaps, the customer has a friend at another company looking for that product or service. Maybe the product doesn’t offer a value today but does months or even years later.

We communicated regularly with a man for 10 years while he worked for a client of ours. He left to become a CTO at a different company and bought similar equipment to what he had before from us. However, at his new company, he also decided to farm out the monitoring of the equipment and we offer that service. Our business relationship transcended the business.

Step 5 – Encourage A Trial

While demos are helpful in walking customers through how to use your technology, a trial lets customers experience your technology’s capabilities on their own system. That’s more powerful because a trial is on their terms, involves their specific use cases in their environment, and occurs whenever is most convenient for them. The adage, show - don’t tell applies. But offering a product experience edges out both.

Offering a product trial is by no means a 30-day, set-it-and-forget-it situation. A week after offering a hotel customer a trial of our Network Engineering Assessment Tool (NEAT), a Wi-Fi network performance tool, we schedule weekly follow-up visits. After a few days of using the tool, some of the explanations provided earlier will click. The customer also may have questions I can answer early in their trial, leading to a better outcome.

Taking these five steps will strengthen your business relationship with customers. It will organically lead to more sales because it’s about expressing genuine care for the customer. Kicking off this approach can start as simply as: “Let’s make sure I understand your business.” Happy relationship-building!

About The Author

Sparky Farwell is Director – CSS Group at CCI Systems.