An amazing marketing book for entrepreneurs (tech or not) and small-business owners that want to learn how to market their business like a pro. This book is all tactics, no B.S. Jay Abraham is really a smart man when it comes to marketing, and this book it's its proof. I'd highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn how to attract more customers and increase their profits.
Originally published: 2000
Goodreads rating: ⭐️ 3.95/5
How To Increase Your Business
There are only three ways to increase your business:
- Increase the number of clients.
- Increase the average size of the sale per client.
- Increase the number of times clients return and buy again.
Only three. It’s significantly less daunting if you only have to focus on three categories. In fact, it’s easy. Let’s take a simple example.
- Calculate your number of clients.
- Figure the average amount they spend on each transaction or sale.
- Determine how often they make a purchase in a year.
A mere 10 percent increase across the board expands your income by 33.1 percent. A 25 percent increase in these categories nearly doubles your income to $390,625.
Studying Other Industrie's Success Practices
You probably spend too little time studying the most successful, innovative, and profitable ideas people in other industries use to grow and prosper.
Yet, if you start focusing on other industries’ success practices, you’ll be amazed at how easily you can adapt these ideas to your own business situation.
What Exactly Are Breakthroughs?
Breakthroughs are unconventionally fresh, superior, more exciting ways of doing something.
The most exciting breakthroughs occur when you reach beyond the traditional way of looking at or doing something and become open and receptive to new possibilities.
Major breakthroughs come from the correct mind-set. It’s an attitude—an opportunistic attitude. People who make breakthroughs are always opportunity-focused. People who don’t, aren’t. It’s that simple.
Learning to be an Opportunist
Fiscal responsibility is very important. But don’t waste all your time on nickel-and-dime thinking. Learn to be an ethical opportunist who creates breakthroughs. Keep your head up, your eyes open, and your mind in gear.
You need to reach out for ideas and answers. Examine ideas, people, procedures, and philosophies from as far outside your normal sphere of business and life as you can possibly reach. Develop a genuine interest, fascination, and curiosity for how other things outside your limited business world work and the principles they’re based upon.
Stretch yourself and start examining subjects, industries, and markets you’ve never been interested in before. Why? Because you’ll get fresh new perspectives, ideas, and insights into segments of the buying market you’ve never thought about before. And you’ll start seeing the connection. Ask yourself powerful questions about how other people use things, do things, sell things, deliver things, service things, make things, compete, and prosper.
The Strategy of Preeminence
The Strategy of Preeminence is quite simply the ability to put your clients’ needs always ahead of your own. When you master that your success will naturally follow.
Consider the definitions of these two words.
- Customer: A person who purchases a commodity or service.
- Client: A person who is under the protection of another.
If you use the word customers, that’s fine. But always think of them as clients. And when you start to serve clients rather than sell clients, the limits on your business success will disappear.
What exactly does “under your protection” mean? In this case it means that you don’t sell them a product or service just so you can make the largest one-time profit possible. You must understand and appreciate exactly what they need when they do business with you—even if they are unable to articulate that exact result themselves. Once you know the final outcome they need, you lead them to that outcome—you become a trusted adviser who protects them. And they have reason to remain your client for a lifetime.
Whatever you do, if you focus on giving value and advice instead of manipulating and maneuvering, you win over many more prospects, clients, bosses, colleagues, and friends. And you will be rewarded in ways you never dreamed.
Falling in Love with Your Clients
One of the biggest mistakes, probably the biggest mistake, people make in any business is that they fall in love with the wrong thing. They fall in love with their product, service, or company. You should believe passionately in your product, service, or company. But you should fall in love with your clients. By client I mean several groups. Not only the people and businesses who pay you for your goods or services. But also your employees, bosses, team members, and vendors.
Awesome service is admirable but trite. Falling in love with your clients means taking responsibility for their well-being. Putting their best interests ahead of your own.
Most people think, “What do I have to say to get people to buy?” Instead you should say, “What do I have to give? What benefit do I have to render?” It has nothing to do with sales shenanigans or trickery or schemes. It has everything to do with what benefits you give your clients.
The more value you give others, the more value you generate. Not only for your clients but for yourself. The more contributions you make to the richness of the lives of your clients, the more bonded you will be to them and they to you. And the more successful you will become.
Change the way you think about, deal with, and speak to your clients. Greet them on the phone and in person with the same joy, sincerity, and enthusiasm that you’d show any other valued friend.
Respect the importance of their time, their sense of security, and their comfort. Don’t make them wait too long on hold or in your waiting room or at their home. Provide for their comfort. That may mean coffee and beverages and a comfortable, clean setting complete with fresh, interesting reading material.
It means following up after the sale—not just to patronize but to contribute, acknowledge, and assure that client that you care about them.
It means thinking about the client as more than just a checkbook. It means seeing him or her as a valued business partner, someone whose well-being and success is directly tied to your own.
Mastering the Strategy of Preeminence is really the understanding and having the utmost respect for human nature.
Your job, therefore, is to understand and acknowledge the reality of human nature in your clients. Accept that people will work harder not to look foolish than they will work to gain an advantage. Become their trusted adviser, their friend. Treat them the same way you would want to be treated.
A successful business starts not with just a great idea or product. Rather, it starts with the desire to provide a solution to another’s problem. In doing so you enrich your own life and the lives of those around you, your family and employees or employers, by enriching the lives of your clients.
You need to understand that you have a higher purpose for being in business than simply making money. Your purpose must be understanding what you can do to help solve the problems of others, help maximize the options, and finding ways to do it. And unless you understand that higher purpose, you can’t begin to take advantage of your potential.
You must first identify what your client really needs, even if your client doesn’t recognize what it is he or she needs. The client may think that a particular item is what he or she is searching for, but if you probe a bit you might see that an entirely different solution will solve your client’s problem, maybe even a less expensive solution. Now you have become more than a salesperson. You’ve become an adviser. You’ve begun the process of winning trust and, ultimately, additional business from your client.
Identifying the Lifetime Value of Your Clients
Acquiring clients at a breakeven or a slight loss and making substantial profits on back-end repurchasing is one of the most overlooked and underutilized methods of client growth and generation available to you. But it can’t work for you until you first recognize a very important fact. If your business or practice is one that has a high probability of clients coming back, again and again, to repurchase from you the same or different products or services, you owe it to that business or practice to do everything within your power to get clients into the buying stream as quickly and easily as you possibly can.
Until you identify and understand exactly how much combined profit a client represents to your business for the life of that relationship, you can’t begin to know how much time, effort, and, most importantly, expense you can afford to invest to acquire that client in the first place. You need to know the lifetime value of your clients (or your clients’ marginal net worth).
The most profitable thing you’ll ever do for your business or career is to understand and ethically exploit the marginal net worth of a client.
What is the current lifetime value of one of your clients? It’s the total profit of an average client over the lifetime of his or her patronage—including all residual sales—less all advertising, marketing, and incremental product or service-fulfillment expenses.
The Importance of Unique Value Propositions
In order to stand above the crowded marketplace, you or your company must offer your prospect or client a unique and distinctive benefit or advantage above and beyond that of your competitor. If you don’t, people have no motivation to do business with you instead of your competition.
You must identify and understand what it is you or your company do or can start doing for your clients that provides them with a result or an advantage superior to the competition’s. This is called the unique selling proposition (USP). Your unique selling proposition is that distinct, appealing idea that sets your business apart from every other “me too” competitor.
When you identify what that distinct advantage is, you then must integrate it into all your promotional, marketing, advertising, and selling operations. This includes what you or your salespeople do and say, plus all the collateral material you use, the brochures, the sales letters, advertising—everything. You don’t just want to say it, you want to constantly demonstrate it. You want to live it. That means that whatever your USP stands for, you do at all times.
In business and in a career, standing out more favorably, advantageously, and appealingly in the prospect’s or client’s eyes is a big reason why clients and employers will choose you over your competitor. The more clearly you telegraph what makes you the better choice (offering more benefits, advantages, and bottom-line payoff), the more often they’ll choose you over your competition. You need to create maximum real and perceived advantage in your clients’ and employers’ eyes and minds at all times.
Developing, identifying, and incorporating your personal USP into everything you do is challenging. But the reward will be well worth the time. It will give you differentiation from, distinction from, and the advantage over everyone in your marketplace. So don’t be hurried. Think about what you do. And think about what your competitors do, or don’t do, and how you could do it better.
Your USP may touch any part of the marketing gamut—price, service, quality, exclusivity, or any other aspect of your business.
Picking an USP
How do you pick a USP? You must first identify which needs are going unfulfilled within your industry, such as:
- A broad selection
- Big discounts
- Advice and assistance
- Convenience (i.e., location, fully stocked shelves, immediate delivery)
- Top-of-the-line products or services
- Speedy service
- Services above and beyond the basics
- A longer and more comprehensive warranty or guarantee than the norm
- Any other distinct advantage, tangible or intangible benefits, or valuable advantages you can give that the competition doesn’t.
The point is to focus on the one niche, need, or gap that is most sorely lacking—provided you can keep the promise you make.
Before you can incorporate and communicate your chosen USP through various marketing avenues, focus and articulate it crisply and clearly—with impact. Don’t be cute or abstract. Think it through until you can articulate it in one crystal clear, compelling, alluring paragraph—or less.
The more measurable, comparable, demonstrable, or quantifiable your advantage, the more powerful it is, too!
When you or your salespeople call on prospects, everything you say should clearly reinforce your USP. You should explain the USP to the client in a clear, concise statement.
Throughout the sales presentation, your salespeople should refer to the USP benefits or advantages. Always show the prospect why it’s very much in his or her best interests to take advantage of your USP rather than your competitor’s USP (if he even has one).
Don't adopt a USP that you can’t deliver. Also, analyze the market potential of various USP positions in terms of volume, profits, and repeat business. Your USP must not only fill a market void but also result in adequate volume, clients, action, and profit to suit your psychological and financial needs.
There’s no rule that says you can’t, by adopting different USPs, develop different businesses or separate divisions of your business which compete against one another.
Most businesses depend on repeat or back-end sales of some sort, so it’s vitally important to indelibly etch a strong, clear, compelling USP in the minds of your clients after they’ve bought from you. This way, your distinct advantage and benefits will pop into their heads when it comes time to buy again.
How can you ensure that you are in the hearts and minds of your clients after the sale? Here are a few good approaches: Immediately following the sale, write, e-mail, phone, or visit your clients. During this follow-up effort, make sure the clients feel important and special, and that their initial purchases are “resold.” Repeat your USP and remind the clients how it helped them make their purchasing decision.
Good marketing requires that you give clients rational reasons for their emotional buying decision. A strong USP helps you do that.
A USP can come in the form of an occasional special offer. Depending on the business, I advise my clients to frequently offer special promotions to their clients by mail, telephone, or in person. Every human wants to feel appreciated and personally acknowledged. By offering your clients genuine, specially priced deals or first choice, you endear yourself to them. At the same time, you enhance your clients’ perception of your ongoing USP.
Remember the following principles when extending a special offer:
First, the client should always see the offer as a logical extension of your basic USP.
If your USP is service, your preferred promotions will be service-based rather than price-based. Give them extended service—for instance, a special offer of your basic service, or one year of free consulting or assistance not normally given.
Second, make it very clear that this special offer is only available to current clients. Third, don’t cut corners by not providing a better price or higher-quality product, longer guarantee, or added services.
The Biggest Secret to Business or Career Success
The biggest secret to success in business or a career is to always maintain the edge in everything you do. Logical-sounding, yes, but infrequently understood. Even less frequently practiced. One of the biggest “competitive-edge” advantages you’ll ever gain is to always make it easier for the client to say yes than it is for them to say no. You do it by taking away the financial, psychological, or emotional risk factors that are always attached (stated or unstated) to virtually any decision-making proposition you ever ask a client to make. When you remove the risk for anyone deciding to do business with you, it results in a powerful advantage in your business and financial success.
When you take away the risk to your prospect or client, you lower the barrier to action, thus eliminating the primary obstacle to buying. And that’s what you must do. Assume the risk in every transaction you have with your clients. Let them know that, if they are ever dissatisfied, you will give them their money back, redo the job at no charge, or whatever else it takes to demonstrate your total, passionate commitment to their satisfaction.
From a practical standpoint, you probably offer some form of risk reversal to your clients. But odds are you don’t forcefully use that in your selling efforts. Most people almost sweep it under the rug, or hide it in their closet.
I want you to push it into the heart of your selling message.
You’re going to be the one company or practice in your industry or the one executive or staff member in your company who offers a strong and powerful risk reversal to the client.
Here’s how you do it: You totally and completely guarantee the purchase for your client.
What does guarantee mean? It means you totally eliminate the risk for the client. You do it by making a completely risk-free performance guarantee to compel them to purchase from you instead of your competitor and to purchase now.
If it’s not practical to fully guarantee the entire purchase, then guarantee whatever portion of the purchase is practical.
Using Better-than-Risk-Free Guarantees
In many selling situations, competition is so keen that you need a greater benefit for the client than basic risk reversal. The answer is to use a better-thanisk-free guarantee (BTRF).
When you tell me that if I am dissatisfied for any reason whatsoever, you will not only give me full and immediate return of my purchase price, but you promise me an additional reward on top—a compensation incentive for having taken the time, effort, and faith to purchase in the first place—I’m impressed. I’m hard-pressed to say no to a proposition like that.
Compensating your clients for their dissatisfaction and valuing their time and trust is the concept behind a better-thanisk-free guarantee. BTRF guarantees are a seldom-used but extremely powerful advantage you can give yourself and your business or practice.
If you sell products or services, consider offering the client something else in addition (a bonus) when they agree to purchase. Offer them an exceptional money-back guarantee, but allow the client to keep the bonus if he or she asks for a refund.
Another twist on this approach is to offer financial compensation if they ask for a refund. I’ve seen people use “double your money back” guarantees quite successfully.
You have enormous flexibility when considering the use of a guarantee, because you can offer a straight thirty-, sixty-, or ninety-day version. You can offer one year. Or a lifetime.
An even more innovative guarantee approach I’ve seen used is to denominate a very specific result or minimum result or personal performance level the client should expect within a defined time period.
Test the most specific types of guarantees and better-thanisk-free guarantees you can before arbitrarily deciding on one.
If you use risk reversal, but only in short, abstract, satisfaction-guaranteed terms, change what you say and your terms. If your product or service is good and performs for your client, the longer the guarantee and the more specific the performance expectations you make, the more people will buy. It’s that simple.
Usually a sixty-day guarantee will outproduce a thirty-day guarantee by 20 to 100 percent. Test it yourself and see what a boost it gives. A full year or even longer usually beats sixty or ninety days. The more specifically you tell people what “satisfaction” looks like, the more compelled they become to act in order to receive that benefit for themselves.
Using Uspelling, Cross Selling and Bundles
When you close a sale, it’s the perfect time to make an additional sale—particularly if there’s a very good reason and benefit for the client to buy your package deal. Sixty percent of all clients will increase if you do it right and offer true value.
I’m going to show you three simple techniques that will help you deliver greater benefits to your current clients, often at a discount for them, and at the same time put more immediate cash into your business:
- Adding products and services: Offer your clients the opportunity to add related items to their basic purchases from you—items that when combined together will increase the level of satisfaction or significance of the ultimate result more completely, conveniently, and efficiently.
- Adding volume or time options: Help your clients decide the best quantity and quality grades in which they want to purchase your goods or services. Or how long they want a service to automatically continue. Don’t limit their options or choices to less quality or quantity or a shorter duration than they need or desire.
- Adding combinations: Give your clients the opportunity to purchase combinations or packages of goods and services that help them better achieve the satisfying end result they want. With one convenient purchase decision.
You’ll notice that I’ve emphasized the end result that clients desire. I’ve done that because some people in business overlook the fact that clients don’t buy products or services; they buy end results.
They buy a product or a service because they believe it will help them achieve a greater sense of convenience, safety, pleasure, economy, accomplishment, or simply self-esteem.
If you keep your client’s desired end results clearly in mind, you can almost always add products and services that help clients achieve their end results more completely, conveniently, and efficiently.
Write the names of your three best-selling products or services. Now add the end result that clients desire when they buy these items. Then, alongside the names of those items, list some of the ways in which you might increase the value and benefit of those goods and services to your clients by adding a product or service to a typical sale.
Here’s a short list of proven ways to come up with your own valuable add-on.
- Observe what your clients do before they buy your goods or services. Can you provide that to them, too (as part of the transaction) for a fee? If most people need to gather information on their purchase before making their purchase with you, provide them the information.
- Watch what people themselves do with your service or product after they buy it, and offer to do it for them for a fee.
- See what people buy to go with your product or service in the pursuit of their end result. Make it available to them through you. Never make your clients have to go to three more places, make three more transactions, and have to trust three more people to achieve their end result if you can possibly provide it yourself. They’ll appreciate you for your effort. Remember, your clients like and trust you already.
- Ask yourself how you would make a client’s end result even more complete. When you join the clients in pursuit of all desired end results, you’ll be amazed at the multitude of services and products you can provide to your clients that they will value and pay for, beyond what they currently purchase from you.
Adding Volume and Frequency Options
Let your clients buy as much as they want, when they want it. If you let them tell you how much they want to buy, and how often, the answer may surprise you.
When given the option or incentive, people are willing to buy more than they ordinarily do.
Can you offer a client a larger unit of purchase—perhaps a family-size month’s supply, or a three-month, six-month, or a year’s supply? (I’ve seen “lifetime” supply actually done successfully in certain situations.)
The thing to remember is your clients deserve the chance to purchase the right amount for them.
Just giving people a structured offer with volume choices nearly always boosts the business you’ll do with a client on the initial transaction and over time.
Just try offering four for the price of three, or buy three and get one free, of almost anything, and you’ll see clients that typically bought just one item going for the higher quantity.
When you increase the size or frequency of the purchase, you rarely lose future sales. Interestingly and quite ironically, quite the opposite effect normally occurs. People start utilizing more of your product or service than they did in the past. Actually, they are usually benefited at a much higher level when they utilize more—so they end up winning on the transaction even more than you do.
Let People Buy by Time Periods
Why hold your clients to one-at-a-time purchases if they would be better served by being able to buy a time-structured package?
Almost any service and most products can be offered for a time period.
If you sell any product or services that can be offered on what I refer to as a TFN (’Til Further Notice) basis, you can use your add-on or up-selling technique to turn one-time purchases into ongoing, perpetual, weekly, daily, monthly, or quarterly locked-in sales.
Combinations Help Boost Profits
You can do your clients a huge service by helping them choose the best combination of what you offer to meet their desires. Just group these items together and let clients purchase them in one buying decision. Bundle your products together to achieve the end result. Clients will thank you for it and you’ll profit tremendously by doing it.
Give clients three better options and a number of them will choose one of the two additions over their initial intent. Give them superior value in each option you add, and they become benefited many times more than you do from the process.
The key is to help that client fit the purchase to what they want the product or service to be. And until they know what’s possible, they can’t make the most intelligent and effective purchasing decision about any product or about any service. So your opportunity is also your obligation. You can’t allow a client to just select what they want to buy until and unless they’ve been educated to know how much more or better is possible. That comes from offering them up-sells and cross-sells.
Another approach to increasing the average transaction value is to use point-of-sale promotions. Point-of-sale promotions are nothing more than displays or signage that grab the client’s attention right at the point of sale. Keep in mind the psychology of a client. Once he or she has decided to buy any product or service, they are committed. They have become impassioned. They have already started envisioning themselves owning, possessing, using, or benefiting from that product or service. It is very easy at that point to assist them in getting even greater value or enrichment from the transaction by offering them other items that complement the purchase the client has just decided to make. Or by offering another product or service they can benefit from at an advantageous price.
Let me tell you where this is most prevalent. You drive down the street and you see a retail store of any kind—it can be a grocery store, a furniture store, an ice-cream store—and you see a sign in the window that reads, “Sale.” Or it says, “Two for One.” Or it says, “Special Purchase.” Anything like that grabs your attention. That’s the standard form of point of purchase that small retailers use.
The Importance of Testing
I think a marketing genius is someone who has the ability to always get the maximum result from the minimum effort—not the person with the most creative ingenuity. You’re a marketing genius if you understand that one approach to getting clients may produce five times the results of another—so, of course, you stick with the approach that yields the best results. So a marketing genius, to me, is someone who is both logical and prudent. Someone who only follows the path that produces the highest and best results or returns for their time, money, and effort. Anyone can become a virtual marketing genius equivalent by doing one simple thing: testing.
Remember, salaried salespeople cost you the same fixed amount, whether they make one sale a day, three sales a day, or more. An ad costs you the same amount of space, production time, or airtime whether it produces one hundred prospects, one thousand prospects, or ten thousand prospects. Therefore, it stands to reason that you should test different ad approaches and find those that outpull all the others. Then use those approaches to maximize your investment.
Keyed Response—the Key to Testing
If you have two different approaches that you are testing, you must design your test to give you specific results keyed to each approach. You must know which ad each and every prospect is responding to.
You can do this in different ways:
- Use a coupon—a differently coded coupon for each version of your ad.
- Tell the prospects to specify a department number when they call or write—there doesn’t have to be an actual department.
- Ask the prospect to tell you he heard it on radio station WWXY in order to qualify for a discount or special offer.
- Include a code on the mailing label returned with the order—the code identifies the source of the label or the version of the ad you mailed.
- Use different telephone numbers for respondents—each offer is accompanied by a similar but distinct phone number.
- Make different package tests and note which bonuses or prices people ask for.
- Have the caller ask for a specific person—the name can be fictitious.
You must be able to attribute each response to one of the approaches you are testing.
Keep meticulous track of each response and its results: simple inquiry, sale, amount of sale, previous client. Keep track of every piece of information that you need in your marketing. And be sure to differentiate in your record keeping between responses (prospect generation) and actual sales. Prospects are fine, but sales are what you’re after.
Focusing on the Value Your Company Provides
You have a moral and business obligation to extend the same superior level of results or benefits you provide to each and every one of your clients, to everyone they hold dear.
If you show you care about your clients and how your product or service makes a difference in their lives, businesses, or careers, they will eagerly refer a constant flow of quality clients to you. All you have to do is show your clients what to do.
A fundamental belief I hold about what you do.
Most people in business think of the generic aspects of what they do . . . they sell shoes or real estate or stocks or insurance or industrial parts. Refuse to allow yourself to become a commodity. Instead, focus on your contribution to your clients’ lives or business and the ultimate impact that results.
Start looking at your enterprise in the same proud light.
If you sell computers, focus on the fact that because an enterprise bought one of your computers, now that business is being run more effectively and efficiently. The owner or management of that business has probably been able to reduce overhead, processing time, and waste by dramatic amounts, thanks to your computer becoming the nerve center. What used to take three people to do may now take only one, and your computer made it all possible.
Focus on the incredible contribution or benefit your product or service made possible. Never focus just on the generic commodity value of what your product or service does.
When you change your sense of self-worth, you also alter the way you look at your relationships with clients. No longer do you, or should you, see them as mere purchasers of your wares or services. Instead, look at each and every client as a dear and valued friend. A lifetime friend, because that is precisely what your clients are to you: dear and valued friends.
After all, they’ve befriended you and your enterprise; they’ve trusted you with critical and intimate buying decisions that impacted and affected their very security, well-being, comfort, happiness, or prosperity. They trust you. They depend upon you.
You wouldn’t allow anyone who was important to one of your valued, dear friends to make a bad purchasing decision if you could possibly keep it from happening.
Do the same for your valued clients. If you know that people important to your clients are making decisions on their own about the product or service area you specialize in, and they aren’t getting the very best outcome they could get, you must intercede. You have to do it not so much for yourself as for your valued client you care deeply about.
Anyone important to your clients has by nature got to become important to you. That means you must, for your client’s best interest, extend yourself at every level to make your services or products available to anyone in their lives who might need your advice or help.
And that means you must encourage and develop referrals as often as possible.
With that said, look at every active and inactive client you deal with as a potential source of dozens of referrals and new, valued friendships for you over his or her lifetime. But it’s up to you to stimulate those referrals.
How to Put a Referral System in Place
Step one: Every time clients deal with you in person, through your sales staff, or by letter, E-mail, or on the phone, diplomatically ask them for client referrals. But first you must set the stage.
Tell your clients that you realize you enjoy doing business with them and they probably associate with other people like themselves who mirror their values and quality.
Tell them you’d like to extend to them the opportunity of referring their valued and trusted associates to you.
Then help the client see a clear picture of who in their lives could benefit most effectively, and naturally, from your services or products.
Tell them what kind of person or business it might be, where they are, what they are probably doing—and why they’d be benefited. Show them what that person or entity would be doing or buying right now so that the picture is vivid. Then extend a totally risk-free, totally obligation-free sales offer.
Step two: Willingly offer to confer with, review, advise, or at least talk or meet with anyone important to that client. Offer to consult their referral or let them sample or get a demonstration of your product or service in action without expectation of purchase, so your client sees you as a valuable expert with whom they can put their friends or colleagues in touch.
If you do this every day to every client you talk to, sell to, write to, or visit—and you also get your key team members to do it, for just five working days to start—you can’t help but get dozens or even hundreds of new clients.
Referral Systems Are the Key to Optimization and Growth
Why do you want referrals? You want referrals because this is the least expensive, has the least risk, and has the highest leverage and highest potential payoff of any way to acquire new clients. An additional benefit is that the client who comes from referrals is much less likely to price-shop or to have buyer’s remorse. The law of consistency is such that if clients recommend you to someone else, they have committed themselves also.
Why do you want multiple systems? Because this is the best way to attract new clients. If you want to optimize any business, then you will have at least four to five different referral systems. Plus, after reviewing the templates and the referral-system examples that follow, you will see how easy, simple, and effective it is to set up multiple referral systems.
The best approach to optimizing any business is to determine four or five new referral systems you will test immediately.
The initial information you would ideally want to know before you go to the referral-system template is discussed below.
- Who are your ideal prospects? (The ideal prospects are the clients you would like to have more of.)
- What is the benefit (or benefits) your ideal prospect wants and needs?
- What benefit or result does your competitor(s) provide? What things does he do better than you and worse than you?
- What benefit or result do you provide? What things are better and worse than what your competitor(s) provides?
- What is the ideal prospect’s biggest problem that is not being met? How could you help him solve it?
You can instantly increase your number of clients by regaining your inactive clients.
Every business or profession I’ve ever looked at, and I’m confident yours is no different, has an overlooked aspect to it that almost nobody focuses upon. That factor is attrition. Attrition is the opposite of retaining or continuing buying relationships with clients. Attrition is the number of clients who stop doing business with you or your enterprise. They’re inactive clients. They are people who move out of the area or who for whatever reasons stop dealing with your company. Most people I work with don’t even have a clue what their level of attrition actually is.
Until and unless you first identify how many of your old clients are no longer actively dealing with your company or your practice, you can’t begin to immediately improve on that figure. By just knowing the percentage and by also knowing exactly who those clients or prospects are who no longer actively do business with you, you’ve gone a long way to reducing your attrition rate. And the opposite of attrition is client retention.
So your goal first and foremost is to identify and understand that whatever business or practice you’re engaged in, you have some level of client attrition. You want to figure out what that level is and who those specific clients are who aren’t doing business with you right now. Then you want to recognize the reasons clients stop doing business with you or your company.
Most people stop buying from you for one of three reasons:
- Something totally unrelated to you happened in their life or business that caused them to temporarily stop dealing with you. They intended to come back, but they’ve just never gotten around to taking action and doing business with you again.
- They had a problem or unsatisfying last purchase experience with you that they probably didn’t even tell you about. So they’re turned off to you or your company.
- Their situation has changed to the point where they no longer can benefit from whatever product or service you sell.
Over one-half of the client attrition I see is the result of loyal, satisfied clients who only intended to temporarily stop doing business but never quite got around to starting back up again.
I strongly suspect that a large portion of your inactive clients are these same kinds of well-intentioned but forgetful people, too.
You have the wonderful and noble opportunity of assisting your past clients to restart their buying relationship with you again.
Helping them to start dealing with your company or practice again, you help them gain more advantage and benefit for themselves.
So, you see, you actually have a responsibility, an obligation, to reconnect them to the original reason they did business with you, and to help them start enjoying those benefits once again.
Let’s consider the second most frequent reason clients stop buying from you. They become dissatisfied or unhappy with you or your company.
The best way to address this problem is to never lose a client in the first place by embracing and living the concept of the Strategy of Preeminence. However, when you do lose a client due to a negative encounter, all is not lost. In fact, it can be one of the best opportunities to reconnect and bond with the former client.
The important thing to recognize is that rarely did you intentionally offend, dissatisfy, or fail to acknowledge that client.
In fact, I’d bet serious money that up until this very moment you didn’t even think about the possibility that you—or your organization—could be the reason clients stopped buying.
The moment you recognize that 80 percent of all lost clients didn’t leave for an irreparable reason, you can almost instantly take action and get many—even most—of those clients back. And when they do come back, the good news is that they tend to become your best, most frequent, and most loyal clients.
They also tend to turn into your best single source of referrals.
If a client stopped purchasing for reason number three (because their situation has changed to the point where they no longer can benefit from whatever product or service you sell), they obviously still have enormous stored respect, goodwill, and connection to your firm. By merely contacting them and honestly expressing your concern about their well-being, you position yourself perfectly. If they tell you they no longer can use your product or service, ask them to recommend you to friends, family members, and associates who can benefit from what you do. They’re usually delighted to do so, but never thought about it on their own.
Find out what change has occurred in that client’s circumstances. If it’s an improvement, be happy for them. Congratulate them and celebrate with them. If it’s a reversal or decline in circumstances, be empathetic with them—and, above all, genuinely care. Show deep, heartfelt emotional connection to them. This is the secret to great referrals. Care about them. Not just about yourself.
Reinstating Lost Clients
So, what do you do to get all these people buying from your business or practice again?
All you do is contact them. But contact them sincerely and humbly.
For example, make an appointment to go visit them at their businesses or homes. Or call them, if a visit is impractical. Or write to them. If you can’t personally do this, the next best thing is to get your salespeople and client-service representatives to contact old, inactive clients for you.
Here’s what you do and say when you talk to them.
First, tell them the truth—that they haven’t been buying products or services from your firm for quite a while and you sense something is wrong. Make certain you communicate this in a way that absolutely conveys your genuine concern for their well-being.
And you should be concerned for their well-being. Why? Because if they have a problem or difficulty, they can’t continue receiving the benefits and value your product or service can provide them. So their lives are less enriched. You can help improve that situation for them.
After you caringly express concern for the lack of contact and transactions your firm has had with them, sincerely ask them the question, “Is anything wrong?” Follow that up—before the client responds—by adding, “Have we done something wrong? Did we offend you? Because if we did, it certainly wasn’t intentional. Is everything all right with your business, job, family, health, etc.?”
Your point of focus should be on them—and their well-being. Obviously, something has happened to cause them to stop purchasing, and you want to find out exactly and truthfully what that something is—and how to fix it.
Most of your inactive clients will fall into the first two categories referred to earlier. Either they stopped buying “temporarily” and never quite got around to starting up again. Or they had a problem they felt was not satisfactorily dealt with.
If they’ve gotten derailed, unintentionally, and just forgot to start dealing with you again, they’ll actually feel slightly embarrassed by, but appreciative for, the call. And normally they’ll start buying again from you within a few days or weeks.
If they had a problem the last time they purchased from you, they’ll probably tell you about that. At this point, you have the perfect opportunity to acknowledge them and their value and importance to your business, to apologize for the problem, to assure them that the problem was not intentional—nor were you even aware it occurred or existed, and to do something really special and noble to make it up to them.
The important point to focus on is to do whatever it takes to make them happy and aware that their well-being and satisfaction is of the utmost importance to you. Don’t do it conditionally. Don’t do it only if they buy something from you again.
There’s also a wonderful bonus benefit you get by doing this. Feedback.
You can’t help but learn all kinds of ways to improve your business. Old clients will tell you exactly what they like and dislike about you, your company, your people, your products, or your service. They’ll tell you exactly how to improve your service and client satisfaction. They’ll tell you what benefits or advantages they got from you. And they’ll guide you to areas of your operation where you can be more helpful for all of your clients.
Screening Qualified Customers
One of the biggest wastes of time and opportunity that I see is people who do not qualify the prospects they target. Instead of going after primary prospects, they go after suspects. The difference between a suspect and a prospect is quality. A suspect is anyone who maybe, possibly, somehow could or might—squint your eyes—someday have the capacity to buy your product or service. A prospect is someone who is qualified today. They need your product or service. They have the capacity to pay for it. They have the ability to make a decision now. They are prime, qualified targets for what you do.
Communicating with Clients
The single most important strategy you can use to maximize the value of all the other strategies is to communicate on a regular basis with everyone who contributes, or ever will contribute, in any way to your business success. You need to do this in order to maintain strong, positive relationships that can be a benefit to all involved.
The more contact and communication you have with a person, the stronger and richer the relationship becomes. In business the secret to keeping and growing clients, as well as growing a career, is to keep continual and meaningful communication with everyone important to you. This is a simple but very powerful method for getting the very most out of your client or key contacts.
Communicating with a client and telling him how great you are doesn’t do the client a lot of good. Communicating with clients and finding out how well your product or service is performing, offering them a free checkup or a service review, offering them advice that will help them get longer or better use out of your product or service, is a great benefit to them. So you’ve got to make certain that whatever strategy you use to communicate constantly with your clients is one that always puts the client’s interest ahead of your own.
And, while we’re talking about communicating continually with your clients, look at clients as dear and valued friends. The way I look at it, I’m so lucky to have clients who are valued to me. They are old friends. I’m deeply connected with them. I care about them far beyond their capacity to spend money with me. I celebrate for them, I empathize with them, I’m there for the agony and the ecstasy.
If you share that feeling, you’ve got more motivation and desire to communicate, to keep in touch (just as you would with any good friend). If you look at your clients as friends whom you have the opportunity and the pleasure to stay connected with, it makes the process a lot more enjoyable, fulfilling, and ultimately more profitable.
And don’t just communicate with clients. Open a dialogue with anyone and everyone who could help you reach your goals.
Develop relationships with colleagues. People in other departments. People above you. People below you. People who now might be competitors, but could someday be colleagues. Your employees. And your employer.
Call, e-mail, or write people who do what you do, who sell the product or service you sell, but in a market where you don’t compete. Share with them, and find out what they’re doing and where they’re finding new avenues of success.
Find a mentor, someone who has been where you are and knows the pitfalls and opportunities that you are facing. This could be a person who is now retired from your industry but has vast amounts of knowledge that you could use to your benefit.
When you do contact clients after they have done business with you, it is a perfect time to gently remind them of why they chose to do business with you in the first place—your unique selling proposition and your solid riskeversal policy.
Reassure clients about their wise decisions, and show how the same USP that served them this time will be there to serve them in the future. Again, state your USP and your strong riskeversal policy, telling clients why you’ve adopted it and why it’s such an advantage to them. People rarely understand the benefits you provide them—unless you carefully educate them to appreciate your efforts on their behalf. Teach the clients why that USP and riskeversal advantage is so much more important than the benefits offered by your competitors.
The more people you talk with, network with, develop a relationship with, the more opportunities and insights you will have. Opening one door leads to dozens of other doors. Opening dozens of doors leads to hundreds of others.
Having a reachable goal is more important to your success and financial prosperity than almost anything else you do. Once the goal is established, you need to work backward to reverse-engineer the exact steps, accomplishments, benchmarks, timelines, and methods you need to follow and set. And include appropriate, hedge, or contingency plans.
Once you decide on a specific goal, you can’t just squint your eyes and look up to heaven and the stars for divine inspiration. Increasing your business or income by a precise and substantial measure each and every year is a very easy thing to do when you work backward, when you reverse-engineer it.
So, you know where you are now and now you know where you want to go, and you know what percentage of growth you want—so you can work backward and wind up going powerfully forward.
Let’s say you want to double your business in the next year. If you know you have one thousand clients and you know right now that those clients buy $100 at a time, twice a year, that’s $200,000. If you want to double your business in a year, you have three paths you can follow—the three ways to increase your business If, for example, you don’t want to work on the size of the order, and you don’t want to work on the number of times a client orders, what does that information tell you?
It tells you that to double your business, you’ve got to get one thousand additional clients.
Next step: Ask yourself, working backward, “What has to happen for me to gain one thousand more clients?” Well, let’s look at what you’re doing now. Whatever you’re doing to get the first thousand, you’ve got to do twice as much. It may mean that you need two times the sales force. Or two times the telemarketing effort. It may mean that you have to run two times the number of ads, or that you have to run the ads in two times the number of publications. It may mean you have to send out two times the number of sales letters. It may mean you have to go to two times the number of trade shows. But it tells you what you have to do.
Whether you want to do that or not is your decision, but you can’t decide until you first work backward.
Maybe getting a 50 percent higher unit of sale, and a third more transactions per year, would make it half as hard to double your business.
If your goal is to move up the corporate ladder and gain power, title, recognition, and the accompanying income, the concept is the same. Although this type of goal cannot be quantified as specifically as a numerical goal, the process of reverse engineering is equally valid.
Determine what level or position you want to reach in what period of time. Then determine the skills that specific position requires. Evaluate what your skills are at this point. What do you need to add to reach that required level of skills? Once you determine the voids, you can begin to fill them.