This small change leads to big growth

April Salsbury

There is steady growth, and there is big growth. When a company plans on pushing a growth strategy, they typically look at increasing their marketing and advertising efforts to gain more customers. While this may be needed in certain situations, there are ways to increase your revenues by 15 to 20 percent without adding huge resources to marketing. How, you ask? Let me explain.

We all know, or should know, that it costs your company more money to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing customer. All companies want new customers. However, your focus should be more on retention and expansion rather than acquisition. Do you know how much it costs you to get a customer? Do you know how long it takes to acquire a new customer? You should. Retaining and expanding your existing customers is far less expensive and it builds all those warm and fuzzy things that marketing works so hard to accomplish – like word-of-mouth referrals and customer loyalty.

Once your prospect is a customer, does the honeymoon end? How is the level of service beyond the initial sales process? If your company is like most companies, this is where the relationship starts to break down. Here are four things you can start today to increase your customer retention and expansion:

1- Encourage yourself and your employees to listen, consult and go the extra mile to ensure the customer’s needs are matched or exceeded. By listening, your company will learn the problems your customers are experiencing and will have the first opportunity in finding a solution that works best for them. When your company comes to the rescue at the last minute or solves an ongoing issue for a customer, you are their saving grace.

2- Put into effect an across-the-board “wow” customer service plan. Not only is providing top-notch customer service fun, your customers will experience only the best from your team regardless of who they are working with or in what capacity.

3- Learn how to up-sell without being a bothersome or slimy salesperson. Remember, it is not about the transaction, it is about finding the best fit solution for the customer. Ask questions and gain knowledge about how the customer is using your services or products.

4- Ask your customers if they are happy and if they would recommend your services. Without asking, you may never know what you are doing wrong or how you could improve.

Building relationships with your customers instead of treating them like transactions will take your company to new heights. With consistent practice, these efforts will increase revenues tremendously while also feeding new customer prospects, thereby reducing the cost per customer acquisition and allowing your marketing resources to be put to better use.

A plan like this does not happen overnight; it is a long-term strategy that needs to be a part of your company culture. It may take a few weeks or months to see the positive outcome, so try not to give up and do not attempt if you are unable to follow through and give it your all.

This edition of Tip of the Week was written by April Salsbury, owner and CEO of Salsbury & Co., a Ridgefield-based consultancy firm. She can be reached at