In previous posts we described how manufacturers can benefit from a strategic marketing and sales plan. In this day and age, it is important for manufacturers to differentiate themselves from competitors to stay ahead of the competition and increase their own profitability. In our last blog post we discussed the 4 Ps of the Marketing Mix and defined sales and marketing to show how they are completely different functions that need to work together for optimal success and growth. In this post, we’ll be discussing the formula for generating sales quickly by focusing on current and past customers including a three-tiered strategy:
- Customer analysis
- Sales message development
- Communication regarding selected activities to encourage sales
Using this strategic process, you will be able to accurately target previous and current customers for any additional business. You can also learn how to develop a very concentrated message to generate incremental sales. For the best outcome, you should utilize any proven communication tactics that are most appropriate for your target audience and customers.
The first step in this process is analyzing your current and past customers to help identify the most promising sales opportunities including what they purchased, how much they purchased, and how often they purchase, etc. The following defines the differences between your past and your current customers.
Current customer: these customers will already be familiar with your company’s products and services and have displayed a degree of interest in, and loyalty to, your company. There is a high likelihood they will purchase again (or more frequently), if given the opportunity, or if simply reminded to purchase.
Past customer: also familiar with your company, but may not have made any recent purchases. They may not be aware of your new product and/or service, or even of your continued existence. By reconnecting, you are also re-introducing your company to them, increasing the likelihood they will purchase from you once again.
Conducting a thorough customer analysis will require the three following steps.
1. Listing Your Customers
When you list your past or current customers, you’ll need to pull their information from whatever database where you have been storing their purchase information. The type of information you will need includes:
- Products they’ve purchased
- Total dollars invoiced
- Contact information (address, phone number, name)
- Any notes regarding their buying and/ or your selling habits
2. Sorting Your Invoices
Once you have created a list of your customers, past and current, you will need to sort them by their most current invoice. If you notice that their last purchase was over a year ago, you can mark or consider them as an inactive, or past, customer. However, if they have made purchases within the current year, they should be considered your active customers.
3. Sorting Your Active Customers by Total Dollars Invoiced
In order to determine which customers will provide you with the best short-range opportunity for increased sales, you need to sort your active customers by their total dollars invoiced. These are the customers who are actively contributing to your sales.
By sorting your active customers by total dollars invoiced you will gain a clearer picture of who is willing to buy and how much they are willing to spend to increase sales growth and opportunities. However, you also don’t want to disregard your inactive customers either. They have contributed at some point to your organization and can likely do so again given the right opportunity.
Sales Message Development
Now that you have sorted which customers are currently contributing to your sales and at what level, you need to begin crafting a tailored message to each individual customer-- this is done via a sales message.
In our first installment of this six-part series on sales and marketing, we discussed how to define your unique selling proposition (USP). In a similar fashion, each tailored message you create should be reflective of your unique selling proposition.
For example, you can send out messages regarding new products and/or services you offer, recent awards you have received, announcements of new employees, etc. Or maybe include some feedback you have received from customers - a great testimonial.
Manufacturers can also do follow-up messages to check on any shipping or delivery issues they may have had during a recent purchase. For best practices, conclude the conversation with a thank you so the customer is reassured that they are valued and that you care about receiving their business.
Sales Activities to Encourage Quick Sales
You’ve sorted your customers determining which ones to focus on to produce the quickest sales. You’ve carefully tailored a direct message for each customer that’s reflective of your organization’s unique selling proposition. Now it’s time to decide and prepare for which method of communication is best for each customer. There are a few different and effective communication methods including:
This has the highest value for all types of customers and is the most recommended. Having a face-to-face meeting allows you the opportunity to read facial expressions, tone and other body language that your sales person can read and address.
This would be considered best practice if you are contacting a former customer and allows you to re-engage again by reaching out to that past customer.
This is practical for routine messages that help educate and inform your customers on new and exciting activities. However there is a lower level of commitment from both the organization and from the customer since the customer doesn’t have to commit to opening an email.
Reconnecting With Past Customers
Reconnecting with your past customers isn’t typically the customer base that will generate quick sales revenues, but depending on their previous buying habits they may just be the customer to talk to. There are a few ways for manufacturers to engage their past customers into a quick sale including customer loyalty programs, direct mailings, promotional emails and surveys.
There are a variety of reasons why customers stop buying; however, when you continually engage with them, you are staying relevant and making them feel like they are included in your ongoing company communications.
Getting the Quick Sale
Quick sales are meant to generate revenue fast and rely on your active customers who produce the highest total dollar revenue. You need to sort your customers, craft a tailored message for them and then decide which method of communication is best for each customer you intend to contact. Implementing a quick sales process in your manufacturing organization will help you increase sustainable growth in a shorter time frame.
This will also give you a clearer understanding of who your customer base is and what their buying habits are for both your current and past customers. This step in detailing a sales and marketing strategy plays a key role in the next installment of this sales and marketing series. We will discuss how you can effectively use market research to learn more about:
- The markets you are currently in
- The customers you should sell to
- Your competitors activities
- Opportunities for new and emerging markets