Greet. Transact. Repeat. Getting Beyond the First Sale

Getting repeat business isn’t as simple as the title of this post suggests. Nor is it as clinical. Building a regular and loyal customer base isn’t some rote task comparable to washing your hands, and it isn’t, to be honest, why you got into business for yourself in the first place.

There’s three distinct times during a sale when what you say and/or do all but guarantees repeat business:

1.    Before the sale: Target your efforts. Do you want to get new customers, draw in customers from competitors, stimulate business during a slow period, or appeal to a different kind of customer? These are all goals worthy of a promotion, but it’s rare that one promotion can accomplish all of those objectives at one.

Offer free samples, price offers, coupons and Groupons, and special events and experiences to generate more overall new business.

2.    During the sale: Show gratitude, be friendly, smile and get to know your customers’ names and a little bit about their lives. Everyone likes being asked their opinion — if you can tell a customer isn’t in a hurry, ask them what they like and don’t like about your business or why they chose you over a competitor today. This way you can get better acquainted while gaining valuable info.

Another tip? Make your transactions easier. Keep regular hours and make sure they are correctly listed online. Label prices clearly and accept as many types of payment as you can afford. If you only have a brick-and-mortar location but your customers have expressed interest in buying online, open an online store. If you’re selling a service, ask your customers if you can remind them of their appointments via text.

3.    After the sale: This is when you can really outshine your competitors. Consider starting a loyalty program, a refer-a-friend program or discounts for their second and third visit. Send customers a hand-written thank you note; start an e-newsletter if you haven’t already. Interact with your customers on social media and respond to both negative and positive reviews— tools like Hootsuite, SproutSocial and LocalVox connect to all the relevant sites and notify you when you need to act.

Last, but not least, remembering your customers’ names goes a long way towards building trust and rapport. After all, there’s a reason Cheers was so popular.

Here’s a few more tips for building customer loyalty.