Sales form the foundation of any business, but it’s important to keep in mind that healthy, consistent consumer relationships are the largest drivers of high sales numbers. That old saying comes to mind, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” While no business owner should ever scoff at the purchase of a one-time buyer, repeat customers — and lots of them — are what build a company up to its highest possible peak over time. Making the initial sale is a great start, but cultivating strong consumer relations is the key component of a successful long-term business plan.

Take a Personal Approach

There’s always a fine line that marketers need to walk between over- and under-personalizing their emails. Although it’s never advisable to take a primarily casual approach to reaching your consumers, a good amount of personalization can go a long way towards cementing a one-time buyer into a repeat customer. Forbes contributor Kevin Harrington writes, “Don’t be afraid to be personal with your customers… Let your customers see what makes you unique, not just before the sale (in an attempt to be different form the competition) but afterward, too. The first sale’s follow-up is the second sale’s opening pitch.”

Make an Immediate Connection

Although there are tactics we can apply to swing the odds in our favor when it comes to timing, the fact is that you rarely meet the consumer at the exact moment that they require your product or service. That’s why it’s important to make sure that they think of you when they’re ready for what you’re offering. Keep the connection between you and your consumers consistently warm, so that there’s no need to reheat it once it grows cold. “One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they come home from networking events and fail to follow up. Make the connection immediately,” offers Entrepreneur. “Send a ‘nice to meet you’ e-mail or let these new contacts know you’ve added them to your newsletter list and then send them the latest copy. Immediately reinforce who you are, what you do and the connection you’ve made.”

Apply Proactive Sales Tactics

As always, appropriate response to feedback is key in establishing healthy consumer relations. Did your customers enjoy your initial product? Did it solve their problem? Are they happy with your service? “Ask these questions after the first sale—don’t just leave them out in the cold once their product is out the door,” writes Harrington. “This is the difference between demonstrating that you’ll deliver a product versus demonstrating that you care about their well-being. And if you can prove that you care about their well-being, you’re most of the way to making the second sale already.”

Reward your Customers and They Will Reward you in Turn

An ideal business exchange is a mutually profitable one. Show your customers gratitude in choosing to deal with you over your competitors, and they will reward you in turn with their repeat business. According to Entrepreneur: “…your most profitable customers are repeat customers. Are you doing enough to encourage them to work with you again? Stay in touch, and give them something of value in exchange for their time, attention and business. It doesn’t need to be too much; a coupon, notice of a special event, helpful insights and advice, or news they can use are all effective. Just remember: If you don’t keep in touch with your customers, your competitors will.”

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