3 Ways to Sell More to Your Customers Without Being A Slime-ball
We’ve all experienced a slime-ball salesperson.
You know you’re in for it by the way they walk over:
Uber enthusiastic handshake. Check.
Ear-to-ear smile showing blindingly white teeth. Check.
Too chipper ‘what can I do for you today’ greeting. Check.
This person’s on a mission to sell me something - get me outta’ here. Check
Congratulations! You just make your customers feel like a mark. Even if they buy from you, they’re leery about coming back. Worse. . .
You’ll never get a referral for them.
Relationship. Building. Fail.
Because we don’t want to feel like a slimy salesperson we leave money on the table - a lot of it!
The key to non-slimy sales is:
customers have to believe your offer is genuine - NOT a way to pad your pockets with a quick sale.
That’s why existing customers are the best way to increase your sales. They’ve worked with you. They’re familiar with your services.
You already have a relationship where they know, like and trust you.
Don’t blow it by making them feel like you’re trying to shake every last nickel out of their pockets.
Go for the win-win!
Before I dive-in to the tactics I want to make some key points.
I encourage you to make the reward something free.
Running sales and offering discounts triggers a whole different mindset about buying.
That's a whole topic in itself - and a critical one for small business service providers. I will take a deeper dive into it in an upcoming post.
For now, remember - getting something for free feels special like a gift or reward.
Discounts just don’t feel as special. In fact, they can make your customers think you've overpriced your services.
Remember the goal, for now, is cash stability.
This post is a deep dive into Step #1 in “5 Steps to Take Back Control of Your Business and Life.” (There’s a link to download your copy at the bottom of this post.)
What you need is a core group of customers that provide predictable cash inflow.
The easiest way is to strengthen the relationship with the customers you already have.
It’s also the quickest way.
Keep it simple.
This one is always on my list. You don’t have to announce a new promotion with a bunch of fanfare.
A simple phone call to a few select customers can get the job done.
Use a more personal approach that feels like relationship-building, not pocket-picking. (Or, doesn’t reek of desperation.)
Let’s dive in:
#1 - Loyalty Programs
This is one of my favorites!
Loyalty programs are fantastic because they’re a direct reward for repeat business.
Repeat business = more stability.
Reaching out to find new customers is a time and cash consuming project.
That’s why you will hear me talk about ‘wowing’ your customers so they stick around. Another reason rewarding loyalty is one of my favorite tactics.
Loyalty programs are well suited for businesses with naturally repeating sales. Think of haircuts, cleaning services, car tune-ups, etc.
How do you put together a loyalty program?
Here are some ideas and suggestions to get you going:
Make your reward feel like a special gift.
This goes back to one of the key points about making the reward something free.
If you price your services at the high-end of the market, then offering a gift feels like a special reward.
Come in for 6 one-hour massages and get a free facial massage your next visit.
Encourage consistent purchases.
If your services are easily postponed, then structure a program to encourage consistency.
Come in for 5 haircuts in the next 6 months and receive a free special occasion styling.
Keep track of their progress and remind them when they’re close to earning a gift.
Receiving a gift shouldn’t be a hassle. Keep up with your customers' progress so they don’t have to. The upside is it’s a great opportunity to stay in touch.
Email your customers to remind them they’ve earned something special.
“I’m glad to provide your massage services. Tuesday MM/DD/YY was your sixth appointment, and I want to thank you for your loyalty. Enjoy a free facial massage on your next visit. . . “
“We noticed you've almost earned a free special occasion styling. You only need one more haircut before the end of the month. The holiday parties and events are right around the corner so it’s perfect timing. . .”
You get the point.
#2 - Bundle Pricing
Think of this as a package of services versus individually priced services. The magic of bundles is, when done right, you can be more efficient with your time and wow your customers.
It’s also a chance to get customers to try other services you offer.
It’s important to make your customers feel like they’re getting value. Never make them feel like you're forcing them to buy things they don’t want.
I recommend giving the bundle a price without comparing it to purchasing individually.
Avoid presenting the bundle as a buy 2 get the 3rd one free deal or as saving X% over purchasing separately. Again, you don’t want your bundle to look like a sale.
How do you decide what services to bundle?
Here are some ideas to get you going:
Are there services most customers ask for after-the-fact?
A photographer knows most clients ask for touch-ups once they see their photos. You know it’s more efficient to make these adjustments before you print the photos.
Bundling touch-up with the set fees and photos into a ‘full-service package’ is a natural fit.
Is there a service where an increase in sales would decrease the supply cost?
A hairstylist buys supplies to deep condition hair. It’s expensive and doesn’t last long once the bottle is open. But, a few customers have to have it.
Try bundling a deep conditioning treatment with a cut & color service. You can then price it as an ‘affordable luxury’ package.
#3 - Inspection and preventative maintenance programs
These work well when the need for your service is unpredictable (or your customers think it is.) Plumbing and heating & air are prime examples of services that fall into this area.
Things to consider:
Be very clear on what the program does and doesn’t include
You don’t want your customers thinking its a 100% guarantee that nothing bad will ever happen again. Be sure to set reasonable expectations.
Look for early warning signs of major problems
This may sound obvious but I mention it because it's such a golden opportunity.
Spot an issue early enough so your customer has time to prepare for the expense, and you will look like a rockstar.
Customize your program for each customer
Anyone can google ‘top 10 things to look for’. Think about what is unique to each customer you provide this service.
In the construction industry, occasionally a contractor has to make a non-standard installation. Over time these changes can cause problems. Does your customer have any?
Get creative and experiment - you’re the boss
Brainstorm ideas without judgment. Even an idea that seems silly at first can grow into a clever plan.
There are usually standard ways companies and people provide a service. It varies by industry, but each industry has its standard way of doing business.
Disruption is the new business style, and. . .
It's here to stay.
Think about this:
Like him or loathe him, Jeff Bezos has changed the face of retail using one simple question. . .
How can I make the customer experience better?
As I said earlier, the goal, for now, is cash stability, but. . .
This is a perfect opportunity to test-run an idea on a small scale. You may discover an absolute gem that will revolutionize your business.
Don't worry if your idea turns out to be an absolute “never doing that again” dud. Learn and move on. You're a step closer to creating a business you love.
Last but NOT least. . .
One final key point
Make sure whatever program you offer will. . .
increase your bottom line cash not just your top-line sales.
Going back to the very first example “Come in for 6 one-hour massages and get a free facial massage your next visit.”
Assume most clients typically buy 4 massages. Make sure the 2 extra massages increase cash more than the cost of providing a facial massage.
I recommend that you work through the numbers on paper (or Excel, or Numbers, etc.). Use whatever system you like best.
It’s important to have a way to compare reality vs expectations.
I know its nerdy work, and most people would rather watch paint dry while getting a root canal. But. . .
an offer that doesn’t increase your cash will make your work harder for no reward.
In a nutshell:
It's not about attracting new customers with a special deal.
Your goal is to offer a carrot (a.k.a. value) to existing customers that promotes reliable and frequent repeat sales.
Remember that and you’ll never have to be a slime-ball to make a sale.
If you don’t have a copy of “5 Steps to Take Back Control of Your Business and Life” you can grab one here!