It is a truth universally acknowledged that it costs more to acquire new customers than to sell to existing ones.

But sometimes it’s incredibly easy to take your current customers for granted, expecting them to renew happily, or drop you a note when they’re keen to buy more. And that’s not because you’re a bad business owner – it’s just that sometimes focussing on winning new business can take your eye off the business you already have.

Here, our strategic planner Nick Adams explains how, with a solid strategy in place, existing customers should – and can – be encouraged to buy more and grow.

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So why sell to customers you already have?

Well, your customers already know who you are. They’re using your product or service. They know exactly what the benefits are and are already paying you to use them. With them, the ‘sell’ should be easier because you know them – and their needs. Which means you can identify where they might need more of your products and services, and how buying can benefit them.

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The three ways to grow

There are three areas of customer expansion for growth. These are:

Upgrades: Offering a better / higher priced version on your product / service

Cross-sell: Offering a complimentary product / service

Add-ons: Offering additional functions / features to improve your customers current subscription

When thinking about how to weave these into your current offering, it’s key to remember that whatever route you take, what you offer really does need to benefit your customer – rather than just you.

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Strategic plans to build business

There are a multitude of different ways to incorporate upgrades, cross-sells and add-ons into customer expansion plans.

Firstly, think about building customer expansion into your pricing model. Probably the most commonly used tactic, value (or usage-based) pricing is when you charge based on usage, rather than having flat rate pricing plans based ​on features.  With this type of pricing model, customer expansion is baked right into your product / service – the more your customers use your product (or the more they grow), the more they pay.​

Secondly, don’t just send sales emails to try to win new business. ‘Selling’ to existing customers keeps them up to date with your offering and shows them what they might be missing. Using the usual email tactics such as a punchy subject line, directing straight to relevant pages, engaging, relevant copy etc should help success.

Everyone loves to feel listened to, so why not ask your customers what they’re missing? Polls, surveys or interviews can be great to help uncover key insights, allowing you (brilliantly) to create just what’s needed – and sell it back to them. They’re happy because they’ve helped ‘co-create’ something, plus got exactly what they were looking for; you’re happy because they’re happy (and you’ve closed a sale).

Referrals are a really important part of business and rewarding your existing customers for recommending you to others is a great way saying thanks. Discounts, perks or upgrades can make your existing consumers feel more invested in you and your product, so don’t forget that a small thank you can go a long way to building better relationships.

And finally, developing an advocacy initiative with customers can also be a winner. Choose your advocates wisely though, and don’t expect too much from them all the time. Being happy that they help as and when can lead to an all-round better relationship – and better business between you.

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SWC Partnerships can help businesses with strategic growth plans through customer expansion or other channels. If you’re looking for some help in this area, click here to contact us.

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