What's your cell number?

Where are your most frequently ignored and untapped business growth opportunities? If you answered, "my existing customers" you are correct. Congratulations.

I had an interesting conversation with a colleague yesterday that started with, "how do you differentiate yourself in a very commoditized industry (banking)?"

Blank stare, followed by "I take care of my customers."  Ouch.

"Look, there is a bank on every corner, and practically nothing truly differentiates one from another other than size or the occasional promotion."

"You're right; we pretty much offer the same services. Some of us will come to your home or office to pick up a deposit. Is that good?"

I was glancing at her business card and noticed that only the office number was listed. "Why isn't your cell phone on here?" I ask.

"Oh, I don't want people calling me on my cell."

I guess she noticed the expression on my face and said, "Seriously?, I have a life you know."

Imagine one of your lowest current balance clients finding herself in a real emergency. She can call the number on the bank of her ATM or credit card, go through an extensive list of options and finally speak to a client services rep in another country. Or, she can call you on your cell and hand you the best opportunity for a life-changing differentiating act that will win this customer over for the rest of her life. While this may be a terrible interruption to your day or evening, this act of genuine service is your chance to prove why you deserve her business and loyalty. By not having your cell phone on your card, you've closed the door on that opportunity. "

Here's the thing: Why is there so much excitement when we 'convert' a new customer but none when we increase sales with an existing one? "Oh, she's already a client."

The math is quite simple; the 'cost' to grow your business with existing customers is virtually null. Compare that to your marketing budget and acquisition costs of new business. While long-term growth can only come from expanding your business (i.e., new markets and customers), your current roster of loyal buyers is the basis for maintaining a positive cash flow. Moreover, existing business is the best way to fund your future acquisition costs.

The digital world and the overabundance of gurus are turning us into lazy marketers. We've come to expect way too much of email campaigns, social media postings and the latest "x tricks to grow your business." While some tricks may educate, the majority are just cheap come-ons designed to hijack your email address so they can sell more useless content.

Here's a short and practical list you should review each month:

  • What percentage of our sales is generated by existing customers?
  • What are they buying? Are they repeating purchases of the same product/service?
  • When was the last time we initiated a physical (call/visit) connection with our clients?
  • What's our eRelatioships like? (engagement via email, surveys, social media)
  • Have we segmented our customers and are we tracking behavior by 'segment' rather than overall sales?
  • Do we understand our "buyer's persona" and have we identified other products and services that can supplement their initial purchase?