Crude oil prices have surpassed $130 per barrel and some experts are speculating it could exceed $140 per barrel by the end of summer. That means the cost of gasoline, already over $4 per gallon in many areas, could climb to almost $5 per gallon by Labor Day.
What impact will this have on your sales? Dramatically higher gas prices means that companies must re-evaluate their entire sales process. For many businesses more emphasis will be placed on conducting business via telephone and the Internet. Personal cold call visits to prospective customers will become a thing of the past. Even the days of “good will” visits to existing clients may be few and far between, if at all. The mantra, work smarter – not harder, will become essential to the short and long-term success of every sales organization.
How can you work smarter? Start with your current list of clients. After all, it costs 6-times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. Since you will not be making as many personal visits, create a schedule for contacting your clients via phone and email. After each call make more detailed notes than usual for future reference. You’ll find this to be very useful when making future calls.
The downside of fewer personal visits is that clients may feel more detached from you and your company. To offset this you might want to consider other ways to increase your company visibility.
Try an e-newsletter. One cost-effective way to increase your visibility with clients is to implement a monthly client newsletter. While expert opinions may differ on the frequency for a newsletter to be effective, marketing studies indicate that recipients need to see three to six issues before they correctly identify the material with the source. Sending a newsletter too frequently to existing clients may not be appreciated, and may actually decrease the effectiveness of the newsletter. Therefore, a newsletter sent to clients consistently each month might be your best option.
It is critical that your newsletter contain relevant articles that will be of interest to your clients. Nothing will turn off readers faster than a newsletter filled with fluff – or with articles that have no bearing on their business.
Rely on an expert. For the small to mid-size business a monthly client newsletter can be a very daunting task. It takes considerable time to research, edit and write a quality newsletter every month – and to make it look professional. Besides, writing a newsletter is not how you make your money. There are a number of client newsletter services available that you can identify searching on Google. The pricing of each service varies from a few hundred dollars per year to several thousand dollars. Likewise there are great differences in the appearance of the newsletters provided by one service versus another. Try to find a service that specializes in your industry or market, and that projects the image you want to maintain with your clients.
Even the best client newsletter cannot be as effective as a face-to-face meeting. But when you’re pumping $100 into your gas tank, you’ll appreciate the help a good newsletter provides in the retention of your clients.