6 Steps That Will Increase Past Customer Sales

One of the best kept secrets to increasing sales is your past customers. Here are six basic rules you should follow to assure that your past customers continue to depend on you for their upgrades and other security needs.

6 Steps That Will Increase Past Customer Sales

One of the best kept secrets to increasing sales is your past customers. Whether you own or manage a one-, two-, or a 50-man shop, if your primary focus is ‘new work,’ then you’re missing out on an extremely lucrative source of income.

These folks have already done business with you and your team so they should be already primed and ready to buy upgrades and other add-ons. However, before you start down this road, there are a few things you might need to do to assure your success.

First, pay particular attention to detail. You want the client to have a warm and fuzzy experience working with your team so that when that last screw is tightened, the last “I” is dotted, the last “T” is crossed and the client makes that final payment, he does it all with a smile on his face and appreciation in his heart.

“The plain and simple fact is, it’s important that the client have a quality and enjoyable experience when dealing with each department within an organization, even if you’re the only person in the company,” says John Larkin, senior partner with Electronic Systems Consultants of Columbus, Ohio. “This is my personal goal and an integral part of our company’s brand. I know that unless the client is pleased, it’s not likely that we’ll ever hear from him again. I want ESC to be his company of choice for any upgrades that may be needed to his system in the future.”

Here are six basic rules you should follow to assure that your past customers continue to depend on you for their upgrades and other security needs:

  1. Create and Maintain a Company ‘Brand’
  2. Accurate Sales Engineering
  3. Honesty and Integrity
  4. Perform Impeccable Installations
  5. Provide Quality and Timely Service
  6. Periodic Contact With Your Past Customers

Let’s go into greater detail and examine these six ways to assure past customer conversion.

Create and Maintain a Company ‘Brand’

Successful security integrators and alarm companies go to great lengths to create and protect their unique ‘brand.’ This includes the design of an attractive, unique and easily recognizable logo, such as ADT, STANLEY, ESC, and so many other leaders in the security industry do.

They also reach out publicly using their brand in order to create brand recognition and brand awareness. The objective is to create a sense of trust by nurturing customer relations in order to build credibility and a good reputation.

“In my estimation, one of the first steps in creating an enjoyable, rewarding relationship with not only your past clients, but your local community at large, is that of your company’s ‘brand,’” says Larkin.

According to Donna Fenn, author of ‘10 Ways to Get More Sales From Existing Customers,’ “Your company brand is your mark of distinction; it’s what sets you apart from your competitors. When you establish and adhere to a brand management strategy, your level of commitment reassures consumers, suppliers and anyone else that your company does business with that they can trust you.”

Fenn says that nearly 75% of queried consumers say that reputation has a direct influence on their buying decisions while 89% claim that it is the deciding factor when the item(s) they intend to purchase are equal in all other respects.

Accurate Sales Engineering

Doing it right the first time is extremely important because everyone who works in security is supposed to be experts in their field. For example, one common problem that some alarm companies seem to have involves mistakes in sizing up the jobs they do. When this kind of mistake occurs, it often means that the salesperson is faced with the stark reality that because of stiff competition, unless they low-ball the job, they’re not going to make the sale.

Most of the time it’s someone on the installation crew that speaks up about the need for additional sensors to the client. It’s at this point that the customer has a choice: pay the price for the omitted devices or go with the contract as it is, without them. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes… did that feel good?

Probably the most common mistake made by expert sales engineers involve motion detectors (MDs). Sometimes it’s a wireless door/window sensor, but most of the time it happens when the sale involves a packaged system.

In this regard, most packages include a single MD with three or four wireless door/window sensors. Additional MDs or door/window sensors require an additional charge.

Another common “error,” either by ignorance or by design, involves a blatant disregard for fire code. Here, the sales engineer allegedly miscalculates the number of smoke detectors needed. In residential applications, for example, automatic detection is needed on each floor as well as in the bedroom hallway(s). In new construction smoke detection also is required by code in each sleeping room.

The problem with this sales tactic is a new customer may come to the realization that the final price tag may not be as low and competitive as first advertised. This seemingly simple and honest mistake can and often undermine the company’s relationship with this new client, resulting in a general lack of trust.

Honesty and Integrity

Frankly, from a branding perspective, there is no substitute for honesty. In fact, companies that put honesty above profit usually are rewarded later with additional sales by existing customers.

Honesty is directly connected to trust and respect, and as Fenn points out in her Inc.com story, a good reputation converts into dollars and cents as it’s often the deciding factor when all else is equal.

It’s not like we’re dealing with television sets and AM/FM radios. We’re dealing with people’s security, safety and their material assets. We’re doing some very serious things for a whole lot of people and that role deserves the best we can muster.

Take, for example, where a mistake is made and sensors are omitted during the bid phase of a new job. As previously mentioned, many times the customer is forced to decide between 1) the security he needs, and 2) the system he’s about to get, per contract. Instead of angering a new client, perhaps it would be better for the alarm company to install the additional components at no cost or do so at a greatly-discounted cost.

Perhaps it’s time to assure that your salespeople do not rely on this kind of sales tactic when seeking a sale. This is why the owner, officers of the company, or the sales and marketing manager need to institute a brand management strategy that includes every person in the company.

In a word, creating an effective and respected brand is everyone’s job, not just the owner, officers of the corporation, marketing manager, or an outside public relations firm.

Impeccable Installation and Timely, Quality Service

Hiring the best locally available sales staff and installers is an important part of brand development because it’s absolutely imperative that your company provide the best buying experience possible, including a quality, impeccable installation.

“Not only do I go to great lengths to find the best installers throughout Ohio, but ESC provides ongoing educational opportunities for our [installation and sales] team. In addition, equipment manufacturers and service providers offer educational opportunities both online and at local and regional shows,” says ESC’s Larkin. “We also plug them into social opportunities, such as the CCTV Security Technician’s Forum on Facebook. Here they can ask questions and get solutions from more than 2,200 other top CCTV professionals.”

In addition to providing a quality installation within the client’s budget without any unexpected surprises, it’s important for your alarm company to offer quality service after the initial installation.

The manner by which you provide this sometimes critical service will also help to determine whether a home or business owner decides to buy upgrades and other services from you at a later date. It may also mean the difference between a positive referral versus a negative one when someone they know asks about their security system.

Periodic Contact With Your Past Customers

When we discuss selling products and services to new or past customers, it’s a fact that you must make an appearance in order to make a sale. Inc.com’s Fenn provides a list of venues by which businesses can achieve the goal. They include:

  • Public relations and publicity
  • Phone Directories
  • Online (Websites, blogs, social media, etc.)
  • Broadcast Media
  • Print Media
  • Direct mail
  • Print Displays
  • Partnering with outside consultants, engineers, and agencies

A great place to start involves the creation of a printed brochure which your office staff can stuff inside the same envelopes that carry a client’s monthly, quarterly and annual monitoring charges as well as other types of invoices.

The same basic design also can be used to create a landing page, which is integral to any successful lead generation effort using social networks.

Looking ahead, in my July SSI blog post we’ll talk about the do’s and don’ts associated with social media engagement, how to launch an email campaign and how you can use all of these things to drive traffic to your landing page.

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About the Author


Al Colombo is a long-time trade journalist and professional in the security and life-safety markets. His work includes more than 40 years in security and life-safety as an installer, salesman, service tech, trade journalist, project manager,and an operations manager. You can contact Colombo through TpromoCom, a consultancy agency based in Canton, Ohio, by emailing [email protected], call 330-956-9003, visit www.Tpromo.Com.

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