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Ask nearly any business owner what they would like to have more of — where they’d like to see an increase, and most likely you’ll get an answer somewhere along the lines of, “more customers.”

There’s no denying that customers are very important to any business. Without an adequate number of people purchasing the goods and services sold by a business, there wouldn’t be any need for the business, and they would soon be out of business. 

But getting customers begins with having someone to tell a sales story to – a prospect – a lead – and then converting those leads into buying and profitable customers and then keeping them from leaving and buying from the competition. Here are some ideas you can use:

1. Get More Leads

Find ways to get in front of more prospects to tell your sales story to. There are a number of lead generation devices that can do this very effectively.

2. Increase Your Conversion Ratio

Convert interested prospects into paying customers. You do this by getting better at what you do. You develop your sales skills. And you can even upgrade or attract a better quality of prospects who would be more likely to buy from you.

3. Reduce Customer Defections

Close the back door – don’t let existing customers slip away to do business with the competition. Statistically, for every five percent increase in customer retention, a business can generate a 30 to 40 percent increase in profitability over a 12 to 16 month period. Since most businesses lose around 19 percent of their customers each year, only 81 percent are left. But if that number were to increase to 86 percent your business would enjoy a 30 to 40 percent increase in profitability.

Remember that it costs six to eight times more to get a new customer than it does to keep an existing one, and it’s 16 times easier to sell to an existing customer than to a new one. So when you compare the acquisition costs for getting new customers to like you, know you, trust you, and buy from you the first time, versus getting your existing customers to repurchase from you, the cost-to-sale difference is significantly different.

4. Increase The Number Of Referrals

Getting new customers through referrals is one of the most cost effective methods there is for growing a business. Referrals from good customers are much easier to sell to because they’re already somewhat “pre-sold.” With conventional advertising it takes a certain amount of valuable time to create credibility and trustworthiness in the minds of prospects. But when a prospect comes as a result of a referral, that credibility and trustworthiness has already been established by the one who referred them.

5. Establish Referral Rewards Programs

Make it worthwhile for your customers who take the time and make the effort to tell others about the benefits of doing business with you can do a lot to bolster the number of referrals you get

Simple things like movie passes, restaurant gift cards, car washes, manicures, or samples of some of the additional products or services you provide make good choices. The reward for a referral should be perceived as high value to your customer, but low cost to you.

6. Reactivate Former Customers

Every company, including yours, has former customers – those who used to do business with them but for one reason or another have stopped and are now doing business with a competitor, or maybe not even using your products or services any longer.

It’s often much easier and less expensive to sell something to someone who has done business with you in the past – someone who has already experienced the service, quality, convenience, terms, and relationship you have to offer, than it is to create a completely new customer and build that trust and credibility from ground zero.

7. Establish Joint Venture Arrangements

Work together in mutually beneficial arrangements with  your centers of influence.  Find people or companies who have already spent considerable time, effort and money establishing and building relationships with customers who are of the same buying profile as the customers you are targeting. Then work out reciprocal arrangements with those business to refer, endorse or suggest that their customers consider certain products or services offered by your company.