Todd Martin

Todd Martin

Sales Strategy

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Looking Back to Move Forward

November 3, 2013

Coming up dry with your current crop of leads? Dig back into your past.

You’re probably making plans for your future right now, plotting your strategy for 2014. But you’d like to come out of 2013 on a positive note, and your numbers for the final quarter don’t look so good. No promising leads are forthcoming, and your social networks seem caught up in end-of-year tasks and holiday preparations.

Todd Martin 102413 image 1While it’s true that your current customers are some of your best customers, what about your former customers, the ones who have slowly slipped into inactive status? They’ve probably disappeared from your radar for a variety of reasons, including tight budgets, changing needs and the lure of a competitor.

But maybe some of them have drifted because you stopped giving them attention. I have my own favorite retailers, but some of them have earned that status because they keep in touch with me and offer me attractive deals.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

If I analyzed my own buying patterns, I’ll bet I’d find that there’s a strong correlation between companies that practice proactive customer service and companies I tend to patronize.

Keeping old customers on your standard mailing list isn’t enough. If you’re looking for new business, consider renewing some of your old sales relationships individually and personally. Here are some ways you can trigger new sales from old friends:

  • The upcoming holidays give you a perfect opening for contact. People get so deluged with greetings during Christmas that you might be smart to initiate contact during Thanksgiving (“Thanks for your past business!”) or New Year’s (“Hoping we can serve you during 2014!”). That way, you won’t offend anyone by wishing them a “Happy Holiday” that they don’t observe. And you won’t get lost in the shuffle.
  • Todd Martin 102413 image 2Have you recently begun offering a new product or service? Depending on the size of your customer and prospect database, you might be able to look at purchase histories and see who this might appeal to. Then send a personal email and offer them 10 percent off, or at least let them know you thought about them. That kind of personal touch sometimes sparks sales. At minimum, it promotes goodwill.
  • Since you’re looking at your database, you might consider following up on a sale, even one that occurred several months ago. I bought a car over a year ago, and I just got a call from the dealership asking if I was still enjoying the vehicle, did I have any concerns, was there any way they could help, etc. I was perfectly happy with my purchase, but it was a smart call for them to make.

There are a lot of hooks you can use to renew the acquaintance of a customer who hasn’t bought recently. Have you run across any mutual contacts? Upgraded or somehow changed a product they bought? You can also simply check in with them individually to see how they’re doing. Emails and phone calls can work, but I really like the idea of handwritten notes. They’re so rare, and such a pleasure to receive.

Todd Martin 102413 image 3You may find that these and other strategies for re-establishing contact with old customers sparks enough interest that you incorporate them as one of your standard sales approaches.

Stock images courtesy of



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