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Customer Relationships -- A Process
While turning leads into new customers is always positive, the ability of entrepreneurs to manage existing clients bodes well in both a highly competitive marketplace and a souring economy. Although keeping track of clients requires patience and hand-holding, customer relationship managers will tell you that the proof is not in the pudding, but in the repeat sales.
With statistics indicating that the cost of acquiring a new customer is five times that of keeping an existing one, focusing on the latter is an exercise in common sense.
Customer Relationship Management or CRM is becoming a popular and effective model for inspiring customer loyalty. Its core principle is meeting and exceeding customer expectations through intimate knowledge of the customer and the highly-evolved relationship between both parties.
The logistical challenge of keeping track of customers boils down to capturing raw data, and often requires time, money and manpower. Obviously, the smaller the business, the easier the task is. You may want to consider purchasing contact management software if your existing customer base exceeds two hundred. For those entrepreneurs with smaller customer bases, a careful note-taking system will usually suffice. Some business owners add records in Outlook; or you can always implement a modified approach in a spreadsheet or table.
Effective contact management software or sales force automation (SFA) tools can be purchased for about $200. More than an address book, these sophisticated programs allow you to:
- Improve responses to customer queries
- Identify trends in buying patterns that can lead to increased sales
- Identify hot prospects
- Link and sift data
- Generate detailed reports on customer activities
- Automate routine paperwork for salespeople giving them more time to sell
- Track phone calls, letters and emails
- Forecast sales opportunities
- Schedule meetings
- Strengthen customer relationships
- Close more sales
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