Build relationships with your buyers to make them more comfortable.
Two words can make customers nervous: hard sell. Yet, it’s still as prevalent as ever. This New York Times article details the hard sell practices by Staples.
Hard-selling, the act of direct, forceful
pressure on customers to convince them to buy a product or a service, can feel
rather uncomfortable—for both sellers and potential
how can a small business owner increase sales with existing customers if the
hard sell feels too aggressive? Focus on
building relationships with existing customers.
Doing so can help increase customer retention,
says Chuck McCabe, CEO and president of Peoples Tax, an accounting company in Glen
McCabe stays in touch with his clients through
a monthly e-newsletter. It doesn’t tout McCabe’s newest services; instead, it offers
practical advice, such as how to create identity alerts, and relevant news, such
as changes in tax laws. “Our current newsletter made clients aware that the
cost of caring for a pet could be a deductible if the pet was adopted through a
program of a charity recognized by the IRS,” McCabe says.
Christopher Ryan, president of Colorado
Springs, Colo.-based Fusion Marketing Partners, also believes in the power of
building relationships. He advocates that small business owners offer three
non-selling pieces of communication for every hard-selling one. It creates a
sense that your business is on the customers’ side, rather than trying to unload
services and products.
Once customers feel like your small business
is working with them, not for them, you can build a sense of loyalty. McCabe
created a loyal customer card that gives cardholders a 3 percent discount every
time they return for a tax service.
According to McCabe, after his company created the e-newsletter and a loyalty program, his customer retention reached roughly 95 percent, up from 85 percent. “A hard sell might work to get a new client,” he says, “but client retention is unlikely unless true value is delivered.”