Mastering Customer Loyalty

Delivering exceptional customer service is the cornerstone of building customer loyalty. Loyal customers are more likely to return and spend more money with your business. Furthermore, loyal customers are more likely to generate positive word of mouth, which plays a vital role in the growth and reputation of your business.

When it comes to business growth and profitability, it’s much easier and more cost-effective to retain loyal customers than to acquire new ones. So, how do we build customer loyalty?

Customers have a strong desire for personalised experiences, attentive support, and swift resolutions. They want to feel valued, listened to, and satisfied throughout their interactions with your business. In today’s competitive market, outstanding customer service can truly set your business apart, driving growth and boosting profitability.

Here is an example of the different types of customers in your business (the customer loyalty ladder):

  1. Satisfied customers – stay with your organisation so long as expectations are met
  2. Repeat customer – habitually returns to your company to buy again
  3. Advocates – put their personal/professional reputation on the line to recommend your business to others
  4. Evangelist – Actively convinces others to use your business
  5. Owners – Feel responsible for the continued success of your business

Here are three practical steps to build customer loyalty and move customers up the customer loyalty ladder.


One: Understand Your Customers

To deliver exceptional customer service, it’s crucial to have a deep understanding of your customers. This involves gaining insights into their needs, preferences, and pain points. By understanding your customers, you can effectively tailor your products, services, and communications to meet their expectations.

Here are three things you can do to understand your customers better:

  • Conduct thorough market research: Create short surveys or conduct interviews to learn more about your target audiences. Identify their demographics, behaviours, motivations, and challenges. This information will guide your customer service strategies.
  • Create customer personas: Develop fictional profiles that represent your typical customers. Include details such as age, interests, goals, and challenges. Personas help you empathise with your customers and make informed decisions on how to serve them better.
  • Actively Listen: Pay serious attention to your customer’s comments, suggestions, and complaints. This feedback is invaluable in understanding their experiences and identifying areas for improvement.

Understanding your customers is an ongoing process. A better understanding of your customers will reduce complaints and allow you to deliver experiences that exceed their expectations and foster long-term loyalty.


Two: Reward loyalty

Creating a customer loyalty scheme or discount structure can be a cost-effective way of retaining clients.

There are many ways to create a loyalty programme. For example, depending on your business, you may want to make data-driven, automated processes like the Tesco Clubcard or Nectar (Sainsbury’s, Argos, Esso, Ebay); establish a cash-back scheme like Asda Rewards; or implement a simple card and stamp system -buy six coffees and get the seventh free.

Creating a structured program that rewards customers for their repeat business not only encourages customer loyalty but also provides an added sense of value and appreciation.

Things to consider when creating a loyalty or discount scheme:

  • Understand your cost per acquisition and ensure your discounts/reward cost is less than it would be to find a new customer.
  • Consider FREE over a discount. Giving something away for free is sometimes better than discounting cash. For example, a free product has a perceived value of £X to the client, but it would have cost your business less.
  • Keep things simple and ensure the program is easy to implement and for your customers to understand.
  • Track and measure success to ensure the programme is working. Is it increasing sales and overall profits?


Three: Build a Customer-Centric Culture

Ultimately, customers want a positive, hassle-free service that exceeds their expectations. Keeping the customer at the centre of everything you do will help you meet this goal.

To achieve this, leadership must lead by example, and there are some simple things we can all do to foster a customer-centric culture. These include:

  • Empower employees to take ownership of customer interactions and provide discounts and refunds at their discretion.
  • Actively listen to feedback and take noticeable action.
  • Resist bad-mouthing or negatively talking about a client/customer around the office or in public
  • Reward staff that go above and beyond for customers, not just the business


How ETC can help

If you need help creating a customer loyalty programme, streamlining your business operations and improving your return on investment, please get in touch.

If you are new to ETC, why not contact us for a free new business review? We’ll spend two hours with you, giving you professional coaching and will leave you with actions for immediate implementation.

Mastering Business Delivery

For all businesses, delivering on your promises is paramount to success. Whether it’s meeting customer expectations or fulfilling internal commitments, effective business delivery can make or break a company’s reputation and profitability.

However, are you focusing on promises to your customer and neglecting your business promises by spending 12 hours on a 10-hour project?

Mastering the management of your business delivery requires tracking and measuring delivery performance, pricing services appropriately, improving delivery efficiency, prioritising customer satisfaction, and cultivating a culture of delivery excellence. Doing this will enhance your business operations and boost your bottom line.

Here are five ways to manage and improve your business delivery.


One: Track and measure delivery performance

One of the best ways to improve your business delivery and profitability is to track and measure your performance against your quotes. This applies to both product and business-based services.

The best and simplest way to track project performance is through a WIP (Work in Progress) board. Creating a WIP board needn’t be complicated. You can use a project management tool like, Wrike, or Trello, or you can create a simple Google Sheet. Typically a WIP would include the following:

  • Project name
  • Client lead (customer)
  • Project lead (who is internally responsible)
  • Value
  • Time allocation
  • Actual time taken
  • Key milestones (such as the client expected deadline)
  • Status of the project (such as New, In Progress, In Review and Complete)

The purpose of a WIP board is to track the progress of projects against what you agreed. It allows business owners to monitor the time and resources spent on each project and compare it with their initial estimates. For example, suppose you quoted 10 hours for a particular service, but it takes 12 hours, or in a product-based business, you spend longer on administration or customer support than expected. Either way, you’re losing money and eating into your profit margins.

By monitoring your delivery, you can identify gaps and take corrective actions, such as optimising your processes, allocating more resources or increasing your prices to improve your profitability. A WIP board also gives you visibility of key milestones, such as the client’s expected deadline.

Top tip: When allocating hours to your delivery team (the people working on the project), don’t forget to account for the time needed to conduct quality control and any administration/project management. For example, if you quoted 10 hours for a project, you may need to allocate your team 7 hours, leaving yourself a few hours for quality control, amends/corrections and administration.


Two: Price appropriately

Pricing is a critical aspect of business delivery. If your prices are too low, you may attract customers but struggle to generate enough profit. On the other hand, if your prices are too high, you may risk pricing yourself out of the market and losing potential customers.

It’s essential to strike a balance. It’s important for business owners to closely monitor and analyse the WIP board to help understand if your pricing aligns with your delivery. If there is a miss alignment, you may need to look at your price or the efficiency of your delivery.

In your pricing review, you should consider the following factors:

  • Costs
  • Market demand
  • Competitors
  • Customer value

For more pricing information, read our Quote based on value, not price article to learn more about pricing appropriately to cover costs and boost your profits.


Three: Improve delivery efficiency

Maximising efficiency will help reduce business costs, minimise waste and maximise profits.

Business owners should continually look for ways to improve to streamline processes, eliminate unnecessary steps, and optimise resource allocation. For example, automation tools or software can help speed up administrative tasks, while training and upskilling your team can enhance their productivity.

Top tip: Business owners do not always need to find and recommend improvements themselves. You may encounter less internal resistance to new initiatives if you get the buy-in from staff. Consider encouraging or incentivising your team to find efficiencies themselves.


Four: Focus on customer satisfaction

It takes much less effort to upsell to an existing customer than acquire a new one. In addition, satisfied customers are more likely to become repeat customers and refer others to your business.

To build customer loyalty, business owners should invest in excellent customer service and processes to effectively communicate new products and services (unknown/unused by them). Doing so will improve the overall efficiency of your business as you’ll be spending much less energy per sale.

For more information on the benefits of customer retention, read our Building customer loyalty article.


Five: Create a culture of delivery excellence

Managing your delivery is about delivering what you promised to the customer and what you agreed to achieve as a business – your goals.

Delivering these promises requires a focused mindset (attitude) and collaborative effort from your entire team.

To achieve this, you should foster a culture of delivery excellence by providing ongoing training and empowering your team to take ownership of their responsibilities. In addition, motivating and rewarding employees for their problem-solving skills will create a culture of continuous improvement and significantly impact your profitability.


How ETC can help

If you need help streamlining your business operations and improving your return on investment, please get in touch.

If you are new to ETC, why not contact us for a free new business review? We’ll spend two hours with you, giving you professional coaching and will leave you with actions for immediate implementation.

Create an Effective Customer Complaint Handling Procedure

Nobody enjoys receiving complaints. However, handling complaints is crucial to maintaining customer satisfaction, managing your reputation, improving your business, and increasing sales opportunities.

Ignoring complaints or handling them negatively will likely damage your business in two ways:

  1. Customer dissatisfaction: Customers may feel insulted or undervalued. This can lead to decreased customer satisfaction and even loss of business.
  2. Missed opportunities for growth: Complaints can highlight areas where your business can improve and even opportunities to add new services/products to sell.

Dealing with complaints is an inevitable part of running a business, but it doesn’t have to be daunting. In fact, if handled well, it can actually improve your business reputation, customer loyalty and sales.

Here are some simple steps you can follow to handle complaints effectively:


One: Create a clear complaint channel

It’s important to ensure all complaints are captured. Complaints can come in through various channels, such as email, phone, review platforms, online forms, or social media. Therefore, you need to ensure either all these channels are monitored or you need to direct customers to your preferred or ‘official’ way to make a complaint.

It’s usually best to nominate one person in your organisation to take the lead in managing complaints. This lead person doesn’t necessarily need to handle complaints themselves, but they should be ultimately responsible for ensuring procedures are resolved, the customer is informed, and records are kept.

It’s also a good idea to include expected reply/response time and outline any formal procedures for customers to help set their expectations. Customers might become more agitated if they feel their complaint has been ignored or fallen into a black hole. Automatic replies are a quick way to acknowledge receipt and explain your company process.


Two: Establish a complaint handling procedure

Depending on the size of your business, you could receive the complaint directly as a business owner or members of your staff could be on the front line. Regardless, you should establish a clear complaint procedure. This will ensure complaints are:

  • responded to in a timely manner;
  • recorded/logged;
  • handled consistently and fairly across the business.

A complaint procedure will give everyone in the business the confidence to handle complaints. Procedures can help to defuse your defensiveness as a business owner and ensure staff aren’t left sounding uninformed or inexperienced (deer in headlights).

A complaints procedure should include the following stages:

  • Acknowledgement of the complaint
  • Recording of the complaint (either on a system, Excel or Google Sheets) accessible to all relevant persons within the business
  • Investigation
  • Resolution/Answer/Escalation
  • Documentation of outcome
  • Follow-up
  • Review

Including these elements will ensure that complaints are handled consistently and effectively.

Top tip: You should always respond to a complaint as soon as possible. You do not have to have a resolution or outcome straight away, but ignoring a complaint can escalate customer frustration. If there isn’t an easy response, you can invite the customer to contact you for more information or let them know you need some time to investigate.

If the complaint is in public view, such as on social media, the best practice is to publicly acknowledge the complaint and ask the individual to contact you privately. It’s highly recommended not to try and resolve things publicly or to delete the feedback.


Three: Training

Training yourself and your staff about how to handle complaints effectively can have a dramatic impact on customer satisfaction. This training should include the complaint handling procedures and how to communicate with customers.

Your overall aim should be to respond to the complaint as quickly as possible and work with the customer to resolve the complaint to their satisfaction.

If you have a customer support team, you should consider training on active listening, empathy, and developing their problem-solving skills.

Effective complaint handling can have the following benefits:

  • Improved customer satisfaction: Staff who are trained in complaint handling are able to resolve them in a timely and effective manner. This can lead to improved customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Increased staff confidence: Trained staff will feel more confident when communicating with customers and handling difficult situations.
  • Better customer relationships: Handling complaints effectively can help build better customer relationships.
  • Reduced complaints: Staff can identify and resolve issues before they become formal complaints. This can help to reduce the number of complaints received by the business.
  • Improved business reputation: When complaints are handled effectively, it can improve the business’s reputation and demonstrates that you care about your customers.


Four: Complaint tracking and reporting

As a small business, it’s likely that as you grow, take on more staff and expand your services, you will receive more complaints. While not the most enjoyable task in the business, it is important to understand where you might be going wrong – in the eyes of your customers.

Tracking and reporting on complaints be used to identify opportunities for improvement, ensure complaints are being handled effectively and measure success in your business performance.

It is important to set regular complaint review meetings with key stakeholders in the business. This is typically done quarterly. This dedicated time will allow you to investigate your business to identify areas to improve and prevent future complaints. It will also help you outline changes or processes needed to prevent further complaints.

Top tip: You should always try and handle your complaint review process objectively. Firstly, try looking at the complaint from a macro perspective as well as trying to solve the individual problem. Consider that not everyone complains openly; some customers will have the same issue, but simply stop using your products/service. Has one person complained but it is an indicator of a larger problem?

Secondly, understand the scale of the problem to determine if a solution is financially viable. For example, you might not want to spend a fortune restructuring your business if only 1/100 customers complain (a 1% issue) – you may want to consider a more cost-appropriate solution.


Five: Follow-up and feedback

Often forgot, but following up and asking for renewed feedback is a crucial step in the complaint-handling process. There are two critical reasons for making sure you follow up:

  1. You can understand if your solution was appropriate
  2. You can share your resolution success with others

After a complaint has been received and resolved, it is important to follow up with the customer to ensure that they are satisfied with the resolution. This can help you identify if your solution was the right for the next time or make adjustments if needed.

In addition, by only focusing on the original complaint, staff and potential customers can become disenchanted with the brand. It’s important to celebrate your growth and demonstrate your dedication to your customer satisfaction.

Top tip: Ensure you include staff in your complaint resolution progress. If front-line staff are only hearing the complaint, but the solution is handled by another team, they might not be aware of the resolution and only hear the negative.

This is true for customer complaints online. Whenever possible try and encourage customers to respond to their own reviews. Potential customers are comforted by seeing a response to a problem. It will make them feel that if they have a problem too, they will be heard, and a solution will be found.


In summary: How to handle complaints

Complaint handling is an essential aspect of running a successful business. Handling complaints effectively can lead to improved customer satisfaction, loyalty, and a better reputation.

In summary, efficiently handling a complaint consists of the following steps:

  1. Provide clear channels for customers to complain
  2. Respond to the complaint as quickly as possible
  3. Work with the customer to resolve the complaint to their satisfaction
  4. Investigate your business to identify areas to improve and prevent future complaints
  5. Implement changes or processes to prevent further complaints
  6. Keep the customer informed when changes have been made
  7. Record and review complaints to analyse trends (suggest quarterly)

By taking these steps, businesses can demonstrate their commitment to customer satisfaction, improve business performance and increase sales opportunities.


How ETC can help

If you need help streamlining your business operations and improving your return on investment, please get in touch.

If you are new to ETC, why not contact us for a free new business review? We’ll spend two hours with you, giving you professional coaching and will leave you with actions for immediate implementation.

Strategies to Improve Your Customer Service

Good customer service is essential for business growth, customer satisfaction, and long-term profitability. Maintaining happy customers will increase customer retention, referrals and overall brand reputation.

Research suggests that if you have a positive experience with a company or brand, you’re likely to tell two or three people. However, if you experience poor service, you’ll tell ten or twelve people. Therefore, customer service can be a crucial element to the success of your business.

In this article, we will outline eight ways to improve customer service to ensure you retain clients and attract new business.


One: Training staff

The foundation of customer service is knowledge and training. Many small businesses focus on training staff on their products and services and how to speak to customers. However, this is only half the training required; it’s also important for staff to understand the customer’s needs – why they need your product or service, and the benefits.

Think of your customer support team as an extension to your sales team. A well-trained customer support team provides a better customer experience, leading to customer satisfaction and loyalty. As a result, you’re more likely to retain clients, upsell products and services and attract new clients.


Two: Responsiveness

Today, customers expect quick responses to their queries or complaints. In most circumstances, failure to react quickly to questions could mean the customer goes elsewhere. Likewise, failure to respond promptly to a complaint could make it harder to resolve the complaint. Therefore, your business needs to respond to customers in a timely manner. One way to achieve this is by investing in technology (covered in section 8 below).

Top tip: Even if you can’t resolve a complaint or answer questions immediately, you should always respond to customers and set their expectations of when an answer can be expected. This is a great way to buy you more time and keep the customer informed.


Three: Personalise the customer service experience

For efficiency, it’s best to create systems and processes to respond to customer enquiries quickly. However, in doing this, you can lose the personal touch. Customers like to feel valued and appreciated. Therefore, whenever possible, you should include personalised elements in your responses. This personalisation can be achieved by remembering their preferences, addressing them by name, and sending personalised offers.


Four: Multi-channel customer support

It’s always best to ensure your customers have different options to reach you. Also, depending on your business, you may have a diverse user base. Therefore, you should cater to their preferred communication channel. For example, younger generations typically prefer online website chat features and text messaging over using the telephone.

In providing a variety of channels you’ll be able to communicate with customers in a method that suits them best. However, this variety can be difficult for small businesses and entrepreneurs to manage. Therefore, if you need to limit the number of customer support channels, ensure you understand your customer’s preferred means of communication and focus on those. Again, customer service technology can help you manage multichannel customer support more efficiently (see section 8 below).


Five: Empower customer service staff

Today, customers expect fast resolutions to their questions or complaints. In addition, customer service titans, such as Amazon, have established an almost ideal experience regarding product issues – issuing refunds/replacements/refunds quickly without much explanation needed.

Training and empowering your staff to make decisions quickly will significantly speed up the time needed for customer support. This autonomy can include offering a refund, upgrading a service or product, or providing a discount. Continual reviews and training will ensure you’re offsetting things like funds and replacement against employees’ time. Overal, your objective should be to create the most profitable means of delivering customer service. For example, it may have cost more in time (employee wage) to resolve a complaint than the cost of a substitute.


Six: Collect and share customer feedback

Information and feedback from customer service can be vital to the growth of your business – their feedback is based on where your product/service meets the real world (where the rubber meets the road).

Regularly capturing and analysing your customer service performance can help identify opportunities to improve your business. For example, continually reviewing customer support logs can identify common questions. As a result, you could potentially eliminate frequently asked questions by addressing them earlier in the decision-making process or improving your service.

In addition, sharing good reviews and testimonials can build trust with potential customers. This can help attract new customers. There is also an online/SEO benefit if reviews and testimaonlas are captured on Facebook and Google.


Seven: Anticipate customer needs

Understanding your customer’s behavhour and anticipating their needs could increase sales. For example, a florist can email previous customers reminding them of a special occasion, such as valentines day or a personal date (such as their birthday), eliminating their need to remember to use them. There could also be an included incentive giving the customer a discount code for that occasion.


Eight: Customer service technology

Recent technological advances in automation and Artificial Intelligence have transformed customer service efficiency. As a result, you can now deliver faster response times and alternatives to more traditional forms of communication, such as email and telephone. This will not only improve business efficiency and profitability, it will also create a better, more personalised customer service experience.

Here are three simple, cost-effective customer service technologies small businesses and entrepreneurs can take advantage of:

  1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software: CRM software will help you manage customer interactions, track purchases, and provide personalised customer service – such as a reminder when it’s their birthday. There are plenty of low-cost solutions that can help small businesses organise customer information, track customer issues, and manage customer communication. Examples of affordable CRM software that small businesses can consider include HubSpot CRM, Zoho CRM, and Agile CRM.
  2. Website live chat systems: Having a chat function on your website can help your company deal with multiple enquiries simultaneously. Low-cost tools such as Trengo, LiveChat and Facebook Messenger can be installed onto your website and provide quick support for inquiries, questions, and issues.
  3. Email Automation: Email automation will allow you to send emails to customers based on their actions, such as making a purchase, abandoning a cart, or signing up for a newsletter. Email automation can help keep customers informed, provide relevant information, and offer discounts or promotions. Popular email automation software includes Mailchimp*, Constant Contact, and Sendinblue.

Top tip: If you see the benefit of these technologies, but the investment is too high for your business, you can outsource some of your customer service needs to a virtual assistant – who will use this technology, but their costs are spread amongst multiple clients. A company providing virtual assistant services can provide cost-effective and flexible administrative support to businesses, allowing you to focus on core tasks and increase productivity.


How ETC can help

If you need help streamlining your business operations and improving your return on investment, please get in touch.

If you are new to ETC, why not contact us for a free new business review? We’ll spend two hours with you, giving you professional coaching and will leave you with actions for immediate implementation.


*Mailchimp is ETC’s current email marketing solution and the link provided in the article is an affiliate link. If you prefer a direct link, please click here: Mailchimp

Make your business more profitable

One of the best ways to grow your business and become more profitable is to improve efficiency and maximise your return on investment (ROI). A successful, profitable business will focus on marketing and sales to keep money coming in and efficiently to slow the money going out – make every penny spent work harder.

Sometimes a single factor can significantly increase profitability. However, for most businesses, a series of minor improvements are needed across several areas.

This guide aims to help business owners identify and implement simple improvements to each area of your business to increase overall performance and profitability to maximise your return on investment. Retaining customers is essential; having spent time and money on your marketing and sales activity, why not put effort into keeping them? Getting existing customers to spend more is also easier than finding new customers – but you must do both to be profitable.


Step one: Customer service

Customer service is where your product/service meets the real world – where the rubber meets the road. This is an important area to get right, and you should invest in good people and efficient systems. Firstly, keeping customers happy will ensure they continue to use your business and refer you to others. In addition, listening to their feedback can help identify new markets, tailor your marketing and sales messaging, and gradually improve your overall delivery.

Learn about how to improve your customer service.


Step two: Complaint handling

If you haven’t already, create a robust system for handling complaints. Humbly paying attention to negative feedback will make you a better business. Not all feedback is constructive, but simply ignoring negative feedback can be devastating. In some circumstances, receiving negative feedback and then demonstrating how you overcame a particular issue can become a winning sales message.

Learn how to create an effective customer complaint handling procedure.


Step three: Managing your delivery

Essentially, this is delivering what you promised – both externally and internally. Before you begin, ensure you track and measure your delivery against your quotes. For example, if you quoted 10hrs and it takes 20hrs, you are losing money! You either need to increase your prices or improve your delivery. Likewise, if the situation is reversed, you should ensure you’re not short-changing customers and risking dissatisfying them – potentially eliminating repeat business.

Learn how to master your business delivery.


Step four: Customer loyalty

It’s easier and more cost-effective to keep a customer returning than to find new ones. Businesses should reward customer loyalty as this helps clients continue to use your products/services over your competitors – especially if your product/service is easily replicated. For example, think of supermarkets; they all sell similar products at similar prices. Therefore, their loyalty programmes are essential in helping customers spend more in their store than with their competitors. Businesses can reward customer loyalty in several ways, including offering discounts on repeat orders, retainer rates and loyalty cards.

Master customer loyalty.


Step five: Account management

For business-to-business customers and larger retail accounts, an account manager’s role is to nurture a client post-initial sale. Account managers are important as they can help retain clients and grow accounts. They shouldn’t be too involved in the delivery and act more like project managers or translators between the client and the business. Having account managers will allow other departments to focus on their specific delivery tasks, significantly reducing the number of general emails and phone calls.


Step six: Employee performance

Regularly monitoring and measuring employee performance will help develop your team and ensure skill sets in your business are improving. In addition, workplace culture is becoming an important hiring factor. Working with employees to understand how to get the best from them will enhance productivity and identify potential hiring benefits.


Step seven: Outsourcing

Not every part of your business needs to be handled in-house. While it might cost you more short term, outsourcing can bring in additional services and skills that might be too expensive to implement fully. An obvious example is hiring a web agency to manage your website; it is probably too costly to hire a full-term website developer. A less obvious example could be to hire a specialist in a particular market or area; bringing in support short-term can allow you to meet a critical need without committing your business to a long-term cost.


Step eight: Finance

Keeping a close eye on your financial situation is critical if you want to remain flexible and grow. As early as possible, it’s usually advisable to hire an accountant. However, to keep costs down, learn the basic principles and pay attention to the essential numbers. For example, the difference between revenue, profit and cashflow – revenue is vanity, profit is sanity, and cash is king. Understanding your financial situation can make every decision easier, whether that’s hiring, outsourcing or which projects to take on.


Step nine: Management meetings

Every business should have a formalised management meeting – even if there are just two staff members. These meetings help to ensure top-level, strategic decisions are being answered. In these meetings, avoid getting into delivery specifics and focus on your progress towards achieving business objectives. These meetings should be regular enough to progress the business without stalling productivity. Typically, longer meetings are held once a month, and smaller check-ins are held once a week, depending on the size of your team


How ETC can help

If you need help streamlining your business operations and improving your return on investment, please get in touch.

If you are new to ETC, why not contact us for a free new business review? We’ll spend two hours with you, giving you professional coaching and will leave you with actions for immediate implementation.

The importance of after-sales and upsell

Completed the sale: Job done! – or is it? On average, it can cost up to five times more to attract new business than to keep an existing one. Therefore, after-sales and customer care is essential to building and maintaining a profitable business.

According to Fundsquire, in the United Kingdom, there are approximately 1,800 companies founded every day. As a result, competition is extremely high, and as a consequence, customer loyalty needs to be earned. Poor after-sales, customer service and failure to build loyalty through upselling services can negatively impact your sales.

Here are three things you can do to maintain customer loyalty and increase sales revenue.


1. After-sales and onboarding

Many companies, after the sale, will switch the customer from a sales process into a delivery or operations workflow. This is extremely common and can be an effective use of skills and resources for your business – but is this change in relationship always best for the customer?

For the best customer experience, it is vital to ensure one of the final steps in your initial sales process is to create a smooth, gentle transition between sales and customer service. An effective means of doing this is to establish a customer onboarding process.

Customer onboarding significantly impacts whether a customer keeps using your product long-term, becomes a repeat customer, or leaves to find an alternative. Creating a customer onboarding process will help ensure you’re giving the customer the best possible start to their journey with you. Done well, it sets your customers up for success. Done poorly, it leaves customers questioning why they signed up in the first place.

Typically, the onboarding process covers the whole journey: from initial sign-up to product/service activation and first use. This process is a gentle, structured way to move away from the sales relationship and starts building customer service relationships.


2. Regularly schedule an aftersales follow-up

Perhaps a really obvious one, but regularly keeping in contact with customers to make sure they are happy will genuinely retain customers and boost sales.

According to HubSpot, 93% of customers will likely make a repeat purchase with companies that offer excellent customer service. So, as a small business, your customer service is the greatest indirect sales weapon. However, on a day-to-day basis, you’re likely working on delivery, not thinking about how to get more money out of your customer – which is a good thing (mostly).

Separate from operational meetings, ensure you arrange a regular, dedicated after-sales meeting. These meetings are essential to ensure you’re delivering what you promised and to help you identify additional services or any revisions of service the customer may need.

Top tip: Make sure you’re prepared before the meeting and speak to everyone with day-to-day contact with the customer. Understand the value to the customer and you as a business. Sometimes it can be just as profitable to reduce services (if you’re over-serving) as it can be to upsell new services.


3. Don’t neglect to upsell or cross-sell

It’s far more efficient to upsell or cross-sell to existing customers than gain a new one. The actual process is more cost-effective to you as a business and can also demonstrate innovation to your customers – you’re not a one-trick pony.

Upsell: Selling a more expensive version of the product or service. For example, convincing the customer to buy a 55inch TV over the 42inch one they intended to buy.

Cross-selling: Selling additional/supporting products or services related to what the customer already intended to buy. For example, convincing the customer to buy a speaker system alongside the TV.

Studies have shown that 40 per cent of customers get annoyed when employees upsell or cross-sell them during customer service interactions. Effective timing is critical when selling additional products or services. It’s probably best not to try to do this while you’re resolving a problem, and we recommend (as detailed in point 2) having a dedicated meeting to discuss further opportunities.

Ultimately, both upselling and cross-selling help the customer get more value from your business and help your business get more loyalty and revenue from the customer.


How ETC can help

If you need help improving your after-sales, creating an onboarding process or upselling to your customers, please get in touch.

If you are new to ETC, why not contact us for a free new business review? We’ll spend two hours with you, giving you professional coaching and will leave you with actions for immediate implementation.

Improve your sales follow-up sales process

Improving your sales follow-up process is one of the simplest and most efficient ways to increase sales conversions.

Many small businesses and entrepreneurs often find themselves too busy running a business to follow up on sales proposals and leads. While some customers will be easy to convert, others may need more than one meeting, email or conversation to progress them from a ‘prospect’ to a ‘client’ in your sales pipeline. This constant follow-up process can be perceived as an unnecessary drain of time – but it shouldn’t be!

A study by Brevet revealed that 80% of sales require an average of five follow-ups. However, 44% of businesses only follow up once, and 94% follow up four times before giving up.

So, why do some people need so much convincing? The common misconception is they’re not interested. However, the more likely barrier echoes your own business challenges: they’re busy too. Decision makers have a lot of conflicting priorities and different demands for their time. According to Harvard Business Review, professionals have, on average, over 200 emails in their inbox at any time.

Many business owners and salespeople fear the follow-up stage of the sales process because they worry it annoys the prospect. Some people also don’t like to hear the word ‘NO’. However, this can be a gift, as a definitive answer means you can cross it off your list and divert energy to another prospect.

Here are five ways to improve your sales follow-up approach and increase your sales conversions.


1. Change your mindset

Following up on sales quotes and proposals is the simplest way to increase sales conversions. You’ve already put in all the hard work; it would be a shame to let all the potential go to waste because you didn’t send a few simple emails or made a telephone call.

Remember, you’re not following up with your prospect to spam them, annoy them, or pressure them into making a purchase. Instead, see this process as part of building a relationship, and you’re being persistent because you have a solution that can help fulfil a need.


2. Vary your approach

When people are busy, certain platforms (such as email) may become overloaded, and you may need to look at things differently to break through the noise.

If you’ve phoned a few times, perhaps follow up with an email or WhatsApp message. Alternatively, you can try ‘popping in’ on your way to another meeting or message your prospect on LinkedIn.

We’re not suggesting you bombard prospects. However, different people may respond better on alternative platforms. Varying your approach will help you understand which platform they are more likely to respond to you through.


3. Space it out

Decision-making processes can vary widely. Therefore, ensure you understand your client’s timescales and plan your follow-ups accordingly.

For example, on shorter timescales, when there is a looming deadline, it might be appropriate to follow up a couple of times within a week. However, following up frequently may be annoying if the process is longer.

Don’t be afraid to ask the prospect the best time to arrange a follow-up call, meeting or email. Once agreed, make sure it’s in your diary and follow through. Fulfilling these simple agreements will help demonstrate trust and reliability.


4. Provide value with each follow-up

The hard sell doesn’t work anymore. Instead, try and use each follow-up to build your relationship with your prospect. Even if they choose not to buy from you this time, keeping the relationship strong will increase the likelihood of them considering you in the future.

With each sales follow-up, try and add more value. You don’t need to continually focus on the sale; vary your approach and instead focus on building a relationship. Try:

  • Asking them about certain aspects of their business (use your notes from your initial sales meeting)
  • Send them a link to a relevant blog or news article
  • Send relevant case studies
  • Notify them of an upcoming sale

Remember that “value” does not have to be financial. You need to ensure that you are offering something useful to the prospect each time you speak.


5. Know when to stop

At a certain point, you will need to stop your sales follow-up process if you’re hitting a brick wall; continuing may seem pushy and aggressive. But, ultimately, unanswered contact can be a waste of resources. Know when it’s time to move on.

There is nothing to stop you from adding the contact into a ‘lapsed prospect’ list and occasionally updating them on relevant offers or services in the future. However, ensure enough time has lapsed before you reestablish contact. You can use your marketing intelligence to determine an appropriate time, for example, at the end of a typical contract length.


How ETC can help

If you need help creating a sales follow-up process and converting more sales, please get in touch.

If you are new to ETC, why not contact us for a free new business review? We’ll spend two hours with you, giving you professional coaching and will leave you with actions for immediate implementation.

Write a winning sales proposal

The sales proposal you send your client is perhaps one of the only tangible references to your compelling sales pitch. Therefore you need to make it personalised and easy to understand.

Often, sending over a simple one-page quote with a summary of work and the price is perfectly adequate. This is usually the standard approach for existing clients who are familiar with you and your solution. However, for new clients who may compare you to other services, this won’t help you stand out – and a well-written email summary with an attached price is NOT the answer.

Remember, your sales proposal may sit on your prospective client’s desk for a few days or weeks – or they may have to share it with colleagues who aren’t as familiar with your pitch. Therefore, your sales proposal needs to be memorable and convincing.

Here are five simple tips to help you structure and write an effective, memorable sales proposal:


1. Keep your sales proposal brief

The key here is to balance helpful information with backstory and evidence. Ultimately, people are busy, and we all have shorter attention spans than we used to. You need to keep your proposal short and to the point.

While there is no set number of pages in a proposal, keep the information essential. The key is making every word count, breaking down content into easily digestible sections/chapters, and including quotes rather than complete case studies (these can be included in appendices or as links to your website).


2. Focus on the client and value

One of the most common mistakes businesses make when writing a sales proposal is making the proposal all about them, not the client

Your proposal should outline your understanding of the problem and how your solution is the best way to overcome challenges and add value to their business. You don’t need a comprehensive backstory about your company. Instead, weave your history and experience into the solution.

While it might be necessary to provide technical detail, try and keep these technicalities relavant to solving a problem or adding value. A laundry list of features may be required for a quick side-by-side comparison with competitors, but you should always be sure to connect features with benefits.

Top tip: When you outline a solution or reference a product’s capabilities, ask yourself: “So what?”. If your following sentence doesn’t outline how the client will benefit, it may not be relevant.


3. Give them pricing options

Traditionally, most proposals only offered one solution. However, you could miss out on a higher sale if you didn’t outline all the available options.

Providing multiple options at different pricing levels can make prospects feel they are getting the best value for money as they have more information and context when making their decision. In addition, with multiple options within one proposal, prospective clients are less likely to shop around at your competitors. This effectively sets you up as your own competition, creating a win-win scenario for you.

Typically, the rule of three works best for pricing. Think Gold, Silver and Bronze, or Enterprise, Business and Startup. In our experience, most people will settle on the middle option.

Finally, don’t forget to add timescales. Make sure you answer the following questions: how long will it take? And when can you start?

Top tip: Consider putting together a simple Gantt chart within the proposal. You can use the number of days/weeks/months instead of actual dates if you want to keep things open. This can help give the client a sense of urgency.


4. Don’t forget the design of your sales proposal

This document is perhaps one of the only tangible sales documents you’ll send your customer. Therefore, this document needs to looks great.

Humans are visual beings. Not only do visual elements such as graphs, flowcharts, or tables help break up large blocks of text, but they also help communicate complex theory simply.

While professionally designed documents can help you stand out, you don’t need to spend hours on the design. Using a simple Microsoft Word or a free Google Doc template can help structure the layout of your proposal can also work.

A fancy document with terrible content can lose a sale just as quickly as an excellent proposal presented poorly.

Top tip: Visuals should look professional and on brand. Coordinate your colour schemes, fonts, and graphics. This will help ensure your business appears capable and credible.


5. Create a flexible, personalised template

Creating a template will help save you, and your team, time when writing your proposals. They will also ensure your proposals stay consitant and on brand. Making them flexible is vital to ensuring you keep them personalised and not a copy and paste job.

For example, you can create templated sentences that help summarise your solution to the client:

This proposal is for [client] who [client needs]. [Your company name] provides [main benefit that differentiates your offering from competitors]. When [target client groups] partner with [your company name] we’re able to achieve goals like [example #1], [example #2], and [example #3].

The more tailored and personalised your proposal, the more effective and persuasive it will be.


Bonus tip: Always include a call to action

Always end your proposal with a call to action. What does the client need to do if they want to progress with things?


How ETC can help

If you need help writing winning sales proposals, please get in touch.

If you are new to ETC, why not contact us for a free new business review? We’ll spend two hours with you, giving you professional coaching and will leave you with actions for immediate implementation.

Quote based on value, not price

When you quote the price of your product or service, are you selling a thing, or are you selling something that will add value?

Many businesses, particularly small businesses, believe they need to be ‘low cost’ to win business and to be competitive against more established companies – this is not the case. If you understand the client’s pain points, you should be able to quote a solution that solves a problem and adds value to their business.

Quoting your solution based on value, not price, will increase your sales conversions, and as a result, you’ll be able to increase your prices and boost your profits.


How to establish value

Establishing the value of your service comes from the work you put in before and during a meeting with your prospective customer. Learning how to prepare for a meeting and asking the right questions in a meeting will give you everything you need to understand the problems their business faces (the pain). This information will allow you to outline how your solution can add value.

For example, imagine you are a roofer quoting to repair a leak at a factory. The owner describes how he’s had to stop or remove machinery because of the leak. Your solution (fixing the roof) is worth the lost revenue from the inactive machinery over time, not the cost of the repair.

Sometimes, the ‘pain’ isn’t so apparent to the client, and you’ll need to work a little harder to establish value. The key here is to understand things like:

  • Current conversion rate
  • Average order value
  • Profit
  • Time taken to fulfil an order (including aftersales)

This information can help paint a picture of how an investment in your solution will increase future sales and productivity.

For example, imagine you’re selling order processing software to track customer orders and send automated progress updates internally and to the customer. The value here is the reduction in time someone needs to spend updating people on the status of an order. As a result of your solution, more hours are available to achieve other things. Perhaps you’ve saved an additional salary, which would have probably cost the business much more than your solution.

With the right information, you may be able to outline both cost savings and increased revenue in one go.

For a guide on how to get the information needed to add value to your quotes and proposals, read our meeting preparation article and our conducting a sales meeting guide.


How to quote based on value, not price

Factfinding is essential in creating a value-based quotation. The questions you ask your prospective customer can help reveal the company’s pain’ points – which can sometimes be unknown to them.

Here are some example questions you can ask in your meeting:

  1. What is your current conversion rate?
  2. What is your average order value?
  3. What is the average profit from each order?
  4. How many sales do you need each month to maintain operations?
  5. How is the company structured? How many departments, and how many employees are in each?
  6. What are your growth plans?

For more information on how to conduct an appointment that gives you the best chance of closing a sale, read our conducting a sales appointment article.


The competitive edge

It’s important to remember that value is based on the customer’s perception. Without establishing value, your solution will likely be compared to a price they found online or the last thing they bought – which could be a cup of coffee.

By establishing value based on a genuine understanding of how your solution will meet their requirements, you will have a competitive edge regardless of whether your price is higher or lower than an alternative.


How ETC can help

If you need help increasing your sales quote conversations, please get in touch.

If you are new to ETC, why not contact us for a free new business review? We’ll spend two hours with you, giving you professional coaching and will leave you with actions for immediate implementation.

Conducting a sales appointment

The key to a successful sales appointment is to listen to the client’s pain points and directly outline how your product or service is the best value solution.

Many people believe that you need to be good at talking to sell your products or services. However, sometimes, the stereotypical, chatty salesperson trait can be counterproductive. Instead, to increase the chances of winning business from a sales appointment, you should concentrate on developing your listening and processing skills.

Here are our top tips on how to improve your sales appointment technique and give yourself the best chance of closing a sale.


Establish rapport

The first thing you should do in any meeting is to establish a relationship with everyone in the meeting – even if it’s a video call. Of course, everyone knows you’re there to talk about your solution, so there’s no need to be too familiar. Still, it helps if you showed interest in topics unrelated to the purpose of your meeting, such as their weekend activities, families or interests outside of work. Remember, people buy from people, so if there’s an opportunity to find common ground, use it.

The aim is to gently transition from this less formal conversation into the purpose of the meeting. Ideally, this transition should be seamless. A great way to do this is to talk about finding more time to engage in hobbies or spend time with the family – your solution can help.

TOP TIP: Keep an eye out for any personal items in the room. This could help break the ice. For example, they could have sports memorabilia on show. People love to talk about their hobbies. However, don’t pretend to be knowledgeable about something you’re not. You don’t need to share the same interests. The purpose is to show genuine attention and get them to open up about their experience.


Clarifying what their needs are

In every sales appointment, you need to position your solution as a means of solving their pain points.

If this is the first meeting, ensure you fully understand what they’re trying to achieve. This is also the time to validate any prior research done during your meeting preparation.

If this is a follow-up meeting, ensure you outline the key talking points from the last meeting and the purpose of this meeting. This helps to set expectations and remind everyone why you are there.

When asking questions, avoid closed questions that invoke a “Yes” or “No” response, and instead, practice using open questions that invite people to provide a detailed answer. These types of questions usually start with ‘what, ‘when’, and ‘how’.

Finally, make sure you really listen to their answers. When it’s your turn to talk, your answers will be much more factual, and it will be easier to directly link back to how your product or service is the solution to their pain – this is how you establish value.


Talk about value, not cost

One of the most common stumbling blocks in a sales meeting is your product or service’s cost.

Some people are uncomfortable about giving a price, and you can see them physically shy away from talking about it. Others are happy to provide one, as they are confident it is fair.

Regardless of the situation, it’s not about how you feel about the price. It’s always down to their perceived value of your solution. If you provide a price without establishing value, the cost will almost always be too high. So, how do you demonstrate value?

After you understand the pain points of your potential customer, you need to know how much it costs them to work around their problems or how these pains prevent them from achieving growth.

Ideally, you want to get a financial figure from them to understand their pain cost. This information can help outline how your solution is a more cost-effective option or identify how it can add additional value and open up new opportunities. Again, it’s always about the value to the client, not the price of the solution.

If you take this approach, you’ll find that you rarely ever talk about the actual price of your solution.


Always close

You might be familiar with the ‘Always Be Closing’ (ABC) sales technique. And while this does conjure images of ‘pushy’, perhaps unethical salespeople, it is a phrase you should remember for each meeting.

In a sales meeting, everyone knows you’re there to sell, so there is no need to be afraid to ask for business. If you have established value, the close should flow naturally, and you can move from talking about how you can help to when you can start helping – this is called an assumptive close.

The assumptive close can be a gentle way to establish a commitment by creating an easy way to start. A great way to achieve this is to get the diary out and pencil in a delivery date.

Finally, don’t fall at the last hurdle, get the paperwork over as soon as possible. Whether this is a quote, proposal or summary of your agreement, get it in their hands as quickly as possible. Generally, people are busy, and as soon as you leave the meeting, they will get absorbed into other things.

TOP TIP: A great way to keep at the forefront of a prospective client’s mind is to send them a ‘thank you for your time’ email following a meeting. Why not create an email template in your email client to save you writing one each time. Here are some guides on how to create a template for the most common email clients:


How ETC can help

If you need help turning your sales meetings from a conversation about price to one about value, please get in touch.

If you are new to ETC, why not contact us for a free new business review? We’ll spend two hours with you, giving you professional coaching and will leave you with actions for immediate implementation.