For some reason, when the word “sales” is mentioned, peoples’ attention often switches straight to winning new customers or clients.
If you are in the know, though, you’ll understand that it is far easier to sell to existing customers than convert new ones.
In fact, according to research by one American firm, the probability of successfully selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is just 5-20%.
To echo that sentiment, they report that it costs five times as much to win a new customer as it does to keep an existing one.
With that in mind, it’s clear that running a business becomes much easier if you focus due attention on your existing clients.
To help boost your marketing to existing clients, here are a few ways in which you can effectively look after your client base whilst increasing sales.
Two basic concepts – upselling and cross-selling
You have probably already heard of the terms “upselling” and “cross-selling”, as they are commonly used in business.
Simply put, upselling describes the action of persuading someone to buy something more expensive than they were initially intending. This will normally be because it offers better value to them than they realised when they made their initial buying decision.
Cross-selling refers to persuading someone to buy something in addition to what they have already purchased.
They work because you have already done the hard part of getting people to trust you or buy into some other quality that distinguishes you from your competition – which goes a long way to explaining the far higher likelihood of purchase that we quoted earlier.
You could build sales processes to implement upselling or cross-selling at the point of a transaction; or by developing targeted marketing campaigns to segments of your customer base at certain times of year. How you do this will depend on the services you offer and how you manage new customers.
For instance, if you don’t do it already you could write to all your self-employed clients offering a book-keeping service (manual cross-selling).
Or if you sell basic, intermediate and premium monthly accountancy packages online, you could build automation functionality that suggests a higher value package to the one initially chosen (automated upselling).
Generating recurring monthly revenues
Accountancy services are well-suited to generating monthly revenues, so much so that you may well already sell some of your services this way. Just check, though, if there is more you could do to boost recurring income whilst adding value to your clients.
For example, some accountancy practices sell insurance against the cost of defending an HMRC enquiry. Alternatively, book-keeping, cash-flow forecasting and advisory services might be good additions to your monthly packages, alongside the standard compliance work.
Introducing partnership services
Partnership services are a great way to expand your service offering whilst creating added-value to your clients.
We are talking about combining with the expertise of an outside agency to offer new services which you would not be able to effectively offer on your own. Your partner gets access to your client base (access controlled by you), you both get a profitable new channel, and your clients get a new value-added service.
Services which pair well with accountancy could include HR, R&D tax credit consultancy, and business coaching. What kinds of business could you partner up with?
If you do a good job, you will get referrals whether or not you put a formal process in place for them. This scenario has pros and cons – you’ll get new leads with no time or effort spent, but they may not always be the leads you want.
If you invest time and budget in developing a referral plan, you can transform this aspect of your marketing. You will increase the number of referrals you get because you are proactively asking for them (perhaps with some kind of incentive). But you can also target what kind of referrals you would like.
This means that rather than leave it to chance, and possibly get referrals based upon your historic service offering, you can instead state exactly what you would like to be referred for: be that your most profitable service, or something new.
Update your offerings
Technology means that the pace of change gets ever faster. Have your service offerings kept up?
Accounting software is probably the most material change which has affected your market, radically altering the way you interact with clients. Making sure you are optimised for this digital world will be a key factor in not only selling to your existing client base, but retaining clients too.
Digital may allow you to drop prices and/or expand the types of services you can offer, which could both lead to increased profitability.
It is not just technology that sparks change. Think about how legislation creates and shuts down opportunity – R&D tax credit law and tax rules for landlords are just two of the significant market changes we’ve seen in recent years which some practices have capitalised on.
Stay in touch
In some ways we have saved the most important point until last. That is, to keep talking to your client base once they have signed up with you.
After making a sale, it can be tempting to see your work as done and assume that clients will keep coming back. However, whether it is inertia for them to just settle for the service they have or, worse, they might be attracted by a competitor’s offer, you need to stay in touch with them to maximise the value in each relationship with new sales – for them and you.
The good news is that it has never been easier to do this. There is a host of digital channels, as well as offline ones like networking and direct mail which you can use to stay on your clients’ radar.
It aligns beautifully with our oft-recommended way to grow accountancy practices – content marketing. Whether it is a blog, email newsletter, handy guides and e-books or social media, there are so many ways in which you can communicate with existing clients, remind them of your expertise, showcase new services and, yes, make sales!
Explore your options
We help accountancy practices use technology and digital marketing to grow. If you want to improve the way you sell to your existing client base, please get in touch with us and we will help you analyse your options and get going with a new strategy.