Are you Gaining Enough New Customers?

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Like many industries, for those of us in the hardwood lumber industry, business is rooted in relationships. At Baillie Lumber, we believe the foundation to success lies in the development of strong, long-lasting customer relationships. However, we also realize that you cannot continue to thrive without adding new customers to your business. Especially in times like this.

So how are you winning new customers these days? Very often, the introduction to potential new customers can come from your existing ones. The art of the sales referral can still be a very effective way to uncover opportunities to help someone new and win new accounts. In many instances, we have found that when we intentionally focus on driving new referrals we succeed at driving new sales.  In doing so, here are a few things we found valuable. Maybe they will sparks some thoughts for you!customeracquisition

Be sure your business is ready to accept new customers. Before launching a new sales initiative, make sure your business is prepared to handle any new accounts.

As Business2Community advises, “Look at your business from a client’s perspective and see whether you would recommend it to others.” If you find that key areas like customer service and satisfaction are lacking, “it is time to make a few changes” related to the effective delivery of service.

Pick the right time to ask. There are “good” times to ask for a sales referral, and other times when it’s not appropriate. Perhaps the best moment is upon delivery of your product or service when everyone involved feels upbeat about the transaction.

Other times might include when you receive a complimentary message from a satisfied customer or whenever you get word that a customer is pleased with your organization.

Keep the referral process simple. You’ll likely get more referrals if the process to do so is straightforward and uncomplicated. One suggestion: Provide your potential contact with a pre-written introduction about your business (with relevant background information) that they can easily forward to businesses within their network.

Spread the word throughout your network. You can’t predict where the next promising sales lead or referral might come from. It could be from someone among your cadre of satisfied customers, from a business contact in your LinkedIn network, attendance at an industry trade show, etc. The key is letting everyone know that you’re seeking sales referrals (and, of course, don’t be shy about asking!).

Offer to make referrals yourself. A willingness to offer referrals, as well as ask for them, is good for business. The effort generates goodwill, “but you can genuinely help a client by introducing them to a business you know will benefit from their good or services.” In this way, your business gains a reputation for being a reliable source for recommendations.

Show gratitude. Finally, remember to always show gratitude. This is true when a sales referral comes your way. But it is equally true when conducting business with a new customer. Whatever method you choose to do this, make sure you get the point across about how important these referrals are, and how much your referred customers' business is appreciated.

All of these tactics have worked for us in one way or another. Whether it be looking for an introduction to a hardwood landowner, an entrée to a sawmill focused on sawing walnut or a truck flooring company that uses large quantities of red oak boards, asking for a referral has never hurt.

What are your thoughts? What best practices do you have to share? Let us know. We are always looking for new ways to help someone new!

And since we’re talking about sales referrals, remember that if you know someone who might benefit from our extensive hardwood lumber knowledge and access to our diverse supply base, please let us know. We value every referral that comes our way!

Brett Del Prince
Baillie Lumber Co.
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