If you’ve ever wondered how to get more sales from existing clients, maybe ask yourself this question: What is my most valuable asset? Noah Fleming wrote an article titled “Don’t Tell Me Your People Are Your Most Valuable Asset.” He’s one of very few people who is laser-focused on the issue of customer loyalty. And he asks a terrific question:
What’s the most valuable asset you have in this business right now? I don’t mean this in a hippy dippy way, but as an actual, concrete question.
What would be your answer? Do your actions match your words? Fleming follows up with an observation:
…we often spend more time nurturing, training and developing the talent than cultivating the customers that make having people possible.

The Common (and Wrong) Answer

Almost anywhere you go in the modern world, HR directors mouth the same tired platitude: “our people are our most valuable asset.” Fleming calls B.S. on this. And I agree. I see a huge disconnect between words and actions. When I talk to business owners about the importance of loyal customers, they always agree with me. Yes, of course it’s more profitable to keep existing customers than to find new ones. But when push comes to shove – in business after business – actions and words don’t line up. They design sophisticated marketing plans to find new customers. And yet they have no coherent plan for how to keep them once they find them. Does that make sense to you? It doesn’t make sense to me, and it doesn’t make sense to Noah Fleming. Let’s think a moment: Why do we spend money on marketing?
  1. To find people who want what we sell
  2. To persuade those people that we can be trusted
  3. To sell something to those people
So, in light of that list, listen to Fleming again:
With very few exceptions, there is no asset more valuable than your customer list, and specifically their purchase history & contact info.
That bears repeating: there is no asset more valuable than your customer list. Why? Because these are people we have already found. These are people who already trust us. These are people who have already bought from us.. In other words, existing customers don’t need your marketing dollars. They need your loyalty dollars.

Are You the Exception?

Now, maybe this doesn’t apply to you. Maybe you’re the only game in town. Maybe you have an ad budget that would make Proctor & Gamble salivate. Maybe you dominate your market. If so, I’m sorry I wasted your time. But if you’re none of those, then let me ask another question: How much do you spend on customer loyalty? A recent Bain & Co study found that a mere 5% increase in customer retention can nearly double profits. That should be sufficient motivation to invest in customer loyalty. Noah Fleming one last time:
“…you can’t afford to ignore your list. Ever. It’s the most valuable thing you’ve got.”
So how do you get more sales from existing customers? Make ’em more loyal. One way to boost loyalty is to give them a persona to love.
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