Farming Your Client Base

chessBefore I get into this subject let me ask you something, how much time and effort is required by you to secure the work of a new customer? Now think how much time and effort does it require to secure the work from an existing customer? I am going to stick my neck out here and tell you that your existing customer takes far less time and effort than a new one, right?

Why is this? The answer is quite simple, your existing clients already know you and if they are coming back to you they also trust you. They also have a very good idea of what you do, what your products are like and what level of service they can expect for their money all of which a new customer must try and establish before that first purchase.

So if this is the case why should I farm them? What is farming anyway, I hope I don’t need a pair of gum boots!!

Farming is all about building and maintaining a good healthy relationship with your customer to ensure you are up to date with their business needs and just as important, they are up to date with your products and services. Generally speaking a well informed customer is a happy customer; a happy customer is a loyal customer and that is the holy grail of business, having a base full of happy loyal customers.

So what is farming? Let me give you a literal example:

  • First we plough the fields (we identify the customer).
  • We sow the seeds (we introduce our product / service).
  • We nurture and grow the crop (we build the rapport and relationship and identify exactly how we can help their business)
  • We harvest the crop (we complete the sale).
  • We plough the fields again (we continue to provide great service & support).
  • We sow the seeds (we continually update them with new products / promotions).
  • We nurture and grow (we continue to see how we can help their business).
  • We harvest the crop (we complete another sale).
  • We plough the fields again (we continue to provide great service & support).

…. and so the cycle continues.

How do we farm the Client Base?

As a small business there are some very cost effective ways of farming your client base, here are a few to get you thinking:

  1. Visit – the best way you can farm your base is to visit your customers, some will require appointments others will be happy that you called in to see them. When you do this always have an objective, something you want to talk about or promote. Go to the meeting prepared, ask them how your product / service as been helping their business, find out if there is anything else you can help them with then talk about your reason for calling.
  2. Newsletter – A regular newsletter can help keep what your business is doing and the introduction of new products and services under the nose of the customer, this isn’t as effective as the visit because at best the wrong people can get the newsletter at worst no one reads it and it gets thrown out (or if it’s email, deleted).
  3. Blogging – Lets you have your say about many things affecting your industry allowing you to project the reputation as being an expert, but unless your clients have subscribed to your feeds or regularly visit your site, often your messages will be missed.
  4. Entertainment – Have a social gathering, probably the most expensive option of the four, but very good for communicating to a captive audience and can be great for getting referrals especially if you ask them to bring along one of their associates. Golf competitions, work dinners, inviting key clients to a charity functions, the options are limitless and restricted only by your imagination or your budget.

Whatever you do, it makes absolute business sense to farm your client base, you have a captured loyal base that is easy to approach, that’s exactly the type of environment that leads to great sales. If you don’t have a plan to do this then take the time and start mapping out which clients you will see first, tackle the ones that give you the most business now and then approach the others at a later date. If need be prioritise them in dollar terms, those who spend the most should command more of your time.

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