Everyone wants new customers. Cell phone providers. Banks. Internet service providers. B2B businesses. You encounter ads everywhere – on screens, billboards and over the airwaves – with special offers targeted to attract new customers.
But new customers are actually quite expensive. The cost to acquire them. The cost to educate them about your product or process. The cost of meeting their expectations. The cost of learning this particular new customer’s needs well enough to meet those expectations. (Potentially, learning their industry.) In a lot of industries, the first product or service purchased has a lower margin, if it is even profitable.
There is a reason that “customer acquisition costs” and “lifetime customer value” are determined and reported separately. Profits result when you keep the customer because of how well your product or service solves their issues.
Rather than searching out new customers, an easier way to grow your business is to go “deeper” with your current customers. It is quite likely that you have available additional products or services that your current customers are not currently using. Tell them about what else you offer, the other ways you can solve their problems/support their business.
Figures vary, but one that’s commonly cited is that 80% of your customers use only 20% of your services or products. I’m not sure I believe that, but even if only 50% of your customers are using just 80% of your services/products – then you have space to grow. You have ample opportunities to support your customers and more ways to expand your business.
Just because a customer is a customer doesn’t mean communication stops. Your company will grow and expand - becoming a more valuable resource for customers, but only if they know about those services or products. Typical communication options for both prospects and customers include:
• Customer events
• Customer satisfaction surveys
• Trade shows
Each of these is valid. All of them are great opportunities to listen. However, a more information-rich option for communicating with your customers is to check-in and have an actual conversation. By phone. In person. Via Zoom. Something in real-time that allows you the opportunity to listen to their concerns, issues, and problems first-hand. This also will give you a chance to determine how your solutions fit. It may even give you insights into solutions you are not – but could be – offering. As Simon Sinek says, “Emails get reactions. Phone calls start conversations.”
Enticing your customers to take advantage of your additional products/services will require a combination of education and communication (also known as marketing.) As with most marketing, the answer to the correct content to motivate your prospects is in the dance of asking questions and listening to your customers – otherwise known as a conversation.
Questions: Which customers are not taking full advantage of what you offer? What is stopping customers from taking full advantage of what you offer?
Listening for: What do those customers need? What problems are they still telling you about?
Questions: What else can you do for customers? Why would that be helpful for them?
Listening for: Who among your customers would need those additional services/alternative products? How are they learning about what is available from your business?
Listening is an underrated skill. You are not validating your own biases (as human brains are prone to do.) You are not validating the company line. You are not scrambling to offer a solution immediately. You are simply listening to what is said. Then, you ask questions and follow up on what is said in the moment: “Tell me more about… How would you describe… How are you thinking about addressing that …” are all the types of open-ended questions that dive deeper than a Yes/No response. They offer the opportunities for insights and epiphanies.
Listening to your current customers will uncover more business growth opportunities than acquiring new customers ever could do. Instead of spending your most limited resource – time – hunting for new audiences and new customers, invest some time in listening and communicating with your current customers. It may be the most effective marketing growth strategy for your business that you’ve ever tried.
Alexandria Trusov is the Director of Marketing at Euthenia Manufacturing Group and a B2B marketing consultant to manufacturers and other B2B companies. Contact her at [email protected] or visit www.truinsightsconsulting.com.