There are two statistically proven rules in business. 1/ 80 % of your business comes from 20 % of your customers. 2/ It is far easier and more profitable to keep an existing customer happy than to try and replace them with a new one.
I think many businesses fail to keep these rules in mind, often seduced by the glamour and thrill of business development. More importantly, they fail to have an adequate control over and fail to best use the customer data they have on record.
Look at the chronology of data management. It is reasonable to argue that most companies start using paper based systems which lack finesse. In time they migrate to Excel or another simple data capture program. At some point they are convinced of the need for an expensive and complicated system like Salesforce.com or Project Sales Achiever of which they use about five percent of the functionality. Every additional tool becomes a chargeable bolt on.
Some companies operate all of the above and end up with no centralised system for capturing customer, former customer, prospect, supplier and partner contact details and contact history.
The benefits of database marketing are undeniably clear – accurate, relevant, timed, personifiable communications with responses tracked and evaluated. But it takes time and costs money.
In the niche B2B arena where the universe containing your target universe is probably small, a database becomes ever more critical. Lists relevant to your business are increasingly harder to purchase so you really have to look after every single lead you ever receive. Even those that are not financially viable for you to convert may still be a useful contact if you consider potential access to their contact pool.
Planning and logging communications and tailoring them with known enquiry and/or transactional data gives you an incredibly powerful profile of each customer and provides insight into what interests them and what potential future requirements might be, meaning you can constantly pre-empt them and keep them satisfied.
Apply a little Tesco magic. Their Clubcard is the main driver in them owning £2 in every £5 of high street grocery spend.
Use cost effective database and CRM packages like DotMailer, Constant Contact or MailAgent, supported by communication platforms like Basecamp which keep all project correspondence in one place.
Why? You look professional. You are engaging. You are in control. You are trusted. You are a partner and therefore more difficult to replace.
Image from http://www.tyson-consulting.com (David Waddington)