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Increasing Sales and Growing Your Business By Jumpstarting Lapsed Relationships

Most of the time, the reasons why a customer becomes inactive are unknown to us. Perhaps the relationship was a one-time transaction from the outset. Or your offering isn’t deep enough to warrant continued engagement. Maybe there was a change in personnel or a competitor had a better offer that enticed your customer to make a change.

In our experience, manufacturers can generate short-term sales increases by reaching out to dormant dealers or customers.

Our recent efforts resulted in a 5% increase in dormant customer activity in just 5 months.

If short-term results that can contribute to sustainable growth are important to your brand, add a planned inactive customer campaign to your sales and marketing plan.

    1. Stop Guessing and Get the Answers

      What prevents us from finding out why a customer is no longer active? Pick up the phone and ask. One of our clients made this a critical function of their business development (calling) team. Another assigned this work to the senior management team. You can divide the list if you’d like with larger accounts going to senior management and smaller accounts to your inhouse sales team. If you are really serious about finding out why companies don’t choose you anymore, nothing has a bigger impact than getting a call from one of your company’s most visible leaders. Not only does this communicate that the account is important, but it also allows senior leadership to unearth critical issues that can then be communicated to various departments, such as customer service issues, product quality, etc.

      One word of caution: Whomever calls from your team needs to be able to communicate authentic appreciation and respect for your dealers or customers. One of our clients was led by a senior team member who had total disdain for their dealers. (Could this be why they had so few active customers?). He was unable to hide this feeling, and he is precisely the wrong person to be making these calls. Dormant customers need to feel like they are valued. If they don’t, they will remain dormant.

    2. Reintroduce Yourself

      How long has it been since these old customers have been customers? Do you even know? Does it matter?

      It matters very much. These aren’t just “dealers” and “customers” that you’re marketing to. They are people. And people can remember two, maybe three, brands in any one category. If you aren’t actively reminding people that you are here and you have something of value to offer, you’ll fall off the radar.

      Start by concisely identifying what you offer that is tangibly better and different than competitors—longer warranty, free marketing support, faster turnaround times, shipping discounts, more innovative products.

      Hone your message and reintroduce yourself to your dormant clients. You want the takeaway to be that you’re here, you want to work with them, and you have something to offer. In our experience, it’s most effective when you tell people that you will call them to follow up because it communicates your commitment to providing support—what can you do for them vs. what can they do for you.

      Not only does a reintroduction message jumpstart the relationship process, it also helps you clean up your database to streamline future communication.

    3. Solve Critical Business Problems

      Inactive dealers are still dealers. That means you should understand what they need because you’re already supplying it to your active dealers. They need leads. They need quick response times from your team. They need quality products that fit the needs of their customers. They need intel and guidance. Remember: when they sell more, you sell more. So why not provide them with the tools and information that help them sell?

      We’ve seen highest reactivation rates when we have identified core customer needs (more leads in a specific category, market-specific intelligence, marketing support) and provided support for those needs on a regular basis via emails, downloads, and landing pages. Help your customers do business better and they will do more business with you. When we launched a dormant dealer initiative for a client, we saw an immediate 3% boost in activity from previously inactive clients who became active again.

    4. Reinvent Yourself

      The Covid pandemic has changed business in ways we could not have imagined. Many of us are trying to figure out our next steps for security. How can you help your dealers cut through the Covid chaos? Reinvent your offering.

      It is possible that customers use your products in ways that you hadn’t imagined or intended. In discussions with one client, we learned that one of their core products had been purchased in large quantities by a government organization for purposes other than what was originally intended.

      The light bulb moment was to rename the product to be more versatile in application and to relaunch it to the dormant customer base. This group was more likely to purchase smaller products to help themselves diversify their customer base.

      The program was an instant success, reactivating another 2% of the dormant customer base. In response, we identified four other products that could be repositioned and relaunched to the dormant customer base. This provided our client with a steady stream of high-value communication and product offerings and offered their dealers something new that they could promote to generate sales.

    5. Provide Tiered Incentives

      It sounds old-fashioned, but providing customers with tiered incentives can be an effective way to move them from inactive to specific spending levels over time. Co-marketing and co-op programs and sales percentage packages are the tried-and-true ways of providing tiered incentives, i.e. purchase $X over 12 months and receive X in marketing dollars or product discount. But these programs are time consuming to administer, so instead, consider creating a simplified package and offering it to customers in exchange for reaching a certain sales goal over a 12-month period. This can be a package of literature, landing pages, PPC, SEO content, and social media that the customer deploys on their own marketing channels. It’s a win-win because you get the brand boost and they get “free” marketing support.

      The probability of selling to an old customer is 60%+ whereas selling to a new customer can be as low as 5%. Growing your company requires you to sell to new customers (another topic we’ll be talking about soon), but reactivating previous customers is a short-term path to long-term sales. Get your program started now and reap the benefits next year and beyond.

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