Why You Should Exploit the Value in Existing Customers
Don’t rest on your laurels after you acquire a new customer. Instead, remember the three “R’s”: revisit, remind and reinvest in your customers.
A good alarm dealer friend of mine likes to say the three “C’s” of selling are “see the customer, see the customer, see the customer.” In other words, he can’t over-stress the importance of getting in front of your customers and prospects.
While it’s easy to understand why it’s important to be physically present to sell to a prospect, many alarm dealers find it harder to understand why it’s also vital to be face-to-face with existing customers.
In May, I attended the Alarm Funding Associates (AFA) Annual Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz. AFA is a prominent company that purchases monitored accounts from alarm companies all over the country. Afterward, AFA partners with these dealers and does a great deal to help them grow their businesses.
The conference provides valuable information and best practices for its alarm dealer partners. At one point, AFA CEO Greg Westhoff addressed the value of visiting customers after the sale. He believes in revisiting existing customers so much that he requires his salespeople to see two per day.
Part of his company’s success is that initiative to be proactive rather than sit back and allow things to take their course. Westhoff emphasizes there is more business in your own customer base than you can imagine — so in addition to the C’s remember these three “R’s”: revisit, remind and reinvest in your customers.
I was so impressed by his presentation that I recruited Westhoff to answer a few more questions on the topic.
Mark Matlock: Why is it important to see customers that you have already sold?
Greg Westhoff: The No. 1 reason is that you have to touch your customers. They need to understand new products have come into the industry, that you can provide them expert service, and that you have them readily available for purchase. Once they purchase new products, it’s also important to revisit the customer to ensure they understand how to operate the system. The more you touch a customer, the easier it is for them to stay with you — and to ward off competitors. If you maintain a relationship with your customer and service that account properly, there is no reason for them to look elsewhere.
MM: What should a dealer try to accomplish when they visit existing customers?
GW: If it’s a new customer they’re just trying to make sure they know how to operate the system and that they’re happy with their installation and system. On an older account, we have a 12-step client visit program and we go through a checklist that covers things like making sure that the central station contact information is correct, and that they have their insurance discount. We also ask if they have any structural add-ons they would like covered. In addition, we inspect all the yard signs and decals to ensure they are in great condition. If not, we gladly repair them for free. Of course, we want to catch them up to speed on everything that is new, but first and foremost, we make certain they understand the intricacies of their alarm system, that it is connected to the central station, and that they feel comfortable using it.
MM: What would you say to alarm companies that don’t see the ROI in this approach?
GW: You can’t afford not to go. You have to maintain a relationship with your customer or they may form a new one with your competitor. You need to get out there and interact with your customer, inspect their system, see how they have been, let them know you’re there for them with all the latest technology. This not only enhances the relationship by showing them you care, it reinforces the fact that you’re their “go to” company when they need something new.
MM: Should dealers try to get a new agreement while there?
GW: Yes, we almost always get a new agreement. But mainly, we’re always looking for add-ons and upgrades. Most importantly, we also want to ask for a referral.
MM: How successful have your dealers been at getting referrals?
GW: Very successful — IF they know how to ask. Unfortunately most dealers don’t and they basically give up when the customer says, “Well, I’ll call you if I think of someone.” The whole idea of getting a referral is to get it while your foot is already in the door. If you’ve done a good job for that customer, you have every right to ask for a referral but you have to make it easy for them to give you a name. We find that asking a specific question like, “Can you think of an immediate neighbor that would be interested in protecting their home the way that you have?” — and be ready to write down the name. You’re not looking for a phonebook, you just want to get one good name. Our company also gives an incentive for the referral for a system that is sold, installed and paid for. We give them $100 and we hand-deliver the check right to their front door.
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