6. Start the Business

CUSTOMERS – Build your customers

Ways to Build Your Customer Base
Here are 10 suggestions for places to look when trying to build your customer base:

  1. Request: Always keep yourself tuned to the needs of people who may be looking for your particular product or service.

  2. Cold call: Many people do not like to cold call, but this is a good way of growing a business.

  3. Ask for referrals: There’s nothing like a referral, so ask to be referred by someone who has used your product, or who knows you.

  4. Network: Attend conferences, seminars and trade shows and make yourself known. Networking is one of the best ways to find customers.

  5. Use your acquaintances: When starting your business, make sure your friends and associates know what you are doing. They may be a good source of customers, because they will tell others about you.

  6. Do seminars: If you have expertise in a certain area, set up seminars because this is a good way to let people know how you can help them.

  7. Set up a web site: Setting up a web site is essential if you have products or services to offer.

  8. Articles or public speaking: If you can write about your type of service, or if you can speak at conferences or seminars, then try and arrange these because they are good ways to generate new leads and potential customers.

Why Customers Won't Buy From You
Here are some reasons why customers fail to buy from you:

  • Reason 1: They have no money
    Customers either don’t have the money or they prefer to use the money on something else that has a higher priority.

  • Reason 2: They don’t have a need
    Customers come to the conclusion that they either don’t need the product or they don’t want to buy it at that time.

  • Reason 3: There is no trust
    Customers sometimes fear losing something they have, more than they desire gaining something they want. This fear causes potential customers to avoid buying something they really want. Trust is lacking.

  • Reason 4: There is no hurry
    Customers take a while to make a decision and they are easily distracted by other offers and other priorities.

How do You Qualify Customers?
What do you do when meeting with a potential customer? The customer seems mildly interested in what you have to offer, but he/she currently isn’t using any of the products from your competitors. They generally end up saying that they will think about it, and then do nothing from then on. You may have met many potential customers, but don’t close the sales. The problem could be your selling skills or it could be something as common as having the wrong prospects.

This means you need to qualify customers so you don’t waste unnecessary time with people who have no intention of completing a sale.

To qualify a prospect you need to meet 3 criteria.

These are:

  1. Has the person a need for your product or service?
  2. Can the person afford it?
  3. Is the person prepared to pay for it?

Questions to Ask Your Customers
Try and get to know your customers.

Here are some questions that need to be asked:

  1. Is your customer an individual?
  2. Is your customer an organisation?
  3. Is your customer male?
  4. Is your customer female?
  5. Is the person you are approaching the user? If not, evaluate both the buyer and the intended user.
  6. What is the age range of your potential customer?
  7. Where do your customers live?
  8. What do they use the products for?
  9. Are they happy to pay for the product?
  10. What are they presently using to meet their needs?
  11. Are they looking for high quality or low price?
  12. How will you let them know about your product or service?
  13. Do they need customer support?
  14. How much are they prepared to pay?
  15. What type of warranty are they after?

Complaining Customers Do You a Favour
A customer who takes the time and trouble to complain to you is doing your business a favour. They are helping you grow your business by pointing out areas needing improvement. They are giving you the chance to resolve the problem and by doing so you will retain their loyalty.

They are helping you by alerting you to a problem, which could cost your business a lot of money if other customers also become unhappy and change to your competitors.

If the problem is to do with your own business, you can correct it yourself. If it is to do with products or services your company is offering and involves outside organisations, advise the organisation concerned and ask them to correct it.

Once the outside company has corrected the problem or has indicated they will do so, let your customer know, so that they will be happy the problem has been corrected. At all times, keep your complaining customer satisfied and loyal.

Create Customers for Life
When creating a garden, the process involves planting the right seed, fertilising and cultivating the soil. The same is true in a business when applied to your potential customers and clients.

Business today is very competitive and it is necessary to keep your business name and services in front of customers. You need to cultivate your customers and prospects by building long-term relationships to generate customers for life.

Cultivation of your prospective customers will result in 3 things:

  1. It will establish who you are in their mind: This will help to differentiate your business from others and help you stand out.

  2. It conditions people to buy: By staying in touch with them you can be aware of their requirements. This should encourage them to continue doing business with you.

  3. It lowers resistance: Any new ideas, or products and services you have will be attractive to loyal customers. These types of customers see the value of what you have to offer and they will be more likely to buy additional products and services from you.

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