A question for you: Of all the challenges you face in running your small business, which is the most difficult and least fun? I’m guessing that, like a lot of business owners, you said sales. I agree with you. It’s hard to boost sales when you don’t like selling.

But guess what? Like it or not, you have to do it. Your business can’t survive without selling your product or service. But take heart. There are ways to make it easier and a lot more profitable. Interested? Keep reading…

Too many business owners and even full-time sales professionals have a wrong view of selling. They are so hyper-focused on making the next sale “right now” they forget something very important – setting the stage and taking the actions that will help them make repeat sales to their existing customer base and maximize lifetime customer value.  

Why is this important to small businesses like yours? And what are the benefits of thinking long-term when it comes to customer relationships? The first sale you make to a customer is almost always the hardest. Why?

An Old, But True, Cliché

Think about the old, but true, cliché – people buy from those they know, like, and trust. Your potential customer doesn’t really know you yet. Hopefully they like you, or will grow to like you. And you definitely want them to trust you. But right now, they’re leery. They’re skeptical.

You have to build a relationship in which they are convinced you have their best interests at heart. Where they are convinced you can do what they want and need you to do for them – to solve a pressing problem or reach a cherished goal.

Once they’ve bought from you, these obstacles have been crossed. They know, like and trust you. You’ve solved a problem for them. You’ve set the stage for future sales or add-on sales with this transaction. Manage your customer relationships properly, and future sales to them will typically be much easier than the first sale.

Another tough thing about the first sale – it’s the most expensive. You have marketing costs. If you have a sales force, you have the overhead of equipping, training and paying them. If you do the selling yourself, you have your time to consider. Repeat sales will have a much lower cost than the initial sale.

As your customer base grows and your buyers become repeat buyers, your income and ROI from marketing and sales will boom!

Think Long Term

So how do you go about reaching this happy outcome? First, keep in mind it won’t happen overnight. So think long term. To succeed at making multiple repeat sales, you need to lay a firm foundation for a successful relationship when you first win a new customer. Scratch that – start laying the foundation before you win the new customer.

A lot of the steps we talk about today will involve effective marketing and selling. But what use is it to be fantastic in these areas if your product is lousy? So make sure your offering is of the highest quality available.

When you make the sale, send a sincere, heartfelt thank you note, (a handwritten one will go a long way in this digital age). In this note and in other post-sale content, plant the seeds of future sales by

  • Offering your customers a time-sensitive discount on additional or related products or services
  • Asking them (and giving a powerful incentive) to sign up for your newsletter and visit your website regularly
  • Sending them useful, interesting, fun-to-read content on how to get more enjoyment and value from the thing they just bought from you
  • Notifying them of new products you think they might find interesting

Also, you may even want to check with them by phone from time to time to see how they are enjoying their purchase, and to remind them to feel free to contact you when they are in the market for a replacement or related item.

As humans, we want to be involved. We crave community. Many successful companies have built communities around their products. Why don’t you do the same thing? Have meetups. Host user groups. Build an online forum.

So what’s the benefit to having happy, involved customers? They are much more likely to become repeat customers, even customers for life.

Do You Want Fries With That?

Yes, following an effective strategy to boost repeat sales can give your business some big returns. Here’s another often-overlooked sales booster: Add-ons at the point of sale. What’s the ultimate example of a company using this technique to explode their profits? McDonald’s. Over the years, the company has boosted their income exponentially by training their employees to ask customer the simple question, “Would you like fries with that?”.

In the online realm, Amazon may be the undisputed master of this strategy. Next time you make a purchase there, notice the site makes subtle suggestions with the goal of getting you to buy more. For example, when you visit a specific product page, you see a “Frequently Bought Together” grouping that includes the product on the page and others related to it.

On the checkout page, you see a “More Items To Consider” heading. In the confirmation/thank you email, you see a “Buy It Again” section with links to items you purchased previously.

As you might have guessed already, one of the secrets to making repeat and add-on sales is to simply ask customers if they want to buy. McDonald’s and Amazon have made a fortune through upsells, and you can too with this simple strategy.

Do You Owe It To Your Customer To Sell?

So at the right time, simply ask your customers if they want to buy. Don’t be afraid to do this. If you are, maybe a “sales paradigm shift” is in order. Think of it this way: if buying your product, including the one you are offering as a follow-up or add-on item, will help your customer solve a problem, don’t you owe it to him to offer it?

In a retail setting, if offering add-on items will save your customer time, money and aggravation by keeping her from having to drive all over town to finish her shopping list, don’t you owe it to her to ask?

Similarly, when a customer visits your website, and looks at your product, isn’t it helpful to follow-up with a relevant email that drives the customer back to related info on your website?

It’s easier than ever to follow-up with your customers and offer excellent service post-sale.  Marketing automation can track how your customers are engaging with your emails as well as which pages they are visiting on your website.  Then, you can automatically follow up with content, deals and add-ons that cater perfectly to their needs.

Making add-on sales and repeat sales doesn’t have to be hard. It doesn’t have to be like a trip to the dentist for a root canal. On the contrary, it can often be simple and pleasant.

Here are a few tips that can boost your sales and develop thriving, profitable, long-term customer relationships

  • Offer an outstanding product or service
  • Show sincere appreciation to your customers
  • Offer great post-sale service
  • Through content, phone calls, events, etc., stay in touch with your customers

So you want to hit the business goldmine and boost sales month after month? Try these tips and be prepared to see your sales and Lifetime Customer Value skyrocket!

Happy Selling!