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How to Treat Your Customers Like Prospects

I love The Office episode “Business School,” when Ryan schools Michael Scott on the cost difference between keeping a customer and finding a new one. (Yes, I still watch The Office. Yes, I still think it’s funny.)

Other than “Don’t let Michael Scott speak to your MBA class,” the underlying message is that your customers are your best, well, customers. They should be treated as such.

So how do you know if you’re successfully upselling? When it doesn’t feel, look or sound like “upselling.” Upselling is most effective when the customer is treated like a prospect. In other words, you don’t take them for granted. You strive to give them the advice, resources and education to broaden their horizons and hit a new level of achievement. As a result, they’ll naturally want more of your product.

We offer three upselling techniques that involve treating your customers like (really, really good) prospects.

1. Welcome Them with Open Arms
After the elation of signing a deal, a customer’s first question is typically, “What now?”

A welcome campaign for new customers answers that important “next steps” question. Your campaign should do the following three things:  1) set the tone for the customer’s relationship with the people who will handle the account; 2) put contact information in front of the customer and makes them feel cared for; and 3) show the customer where they’re headed with your company in the short- and long-term, exposing them to other brands or products.

As Eytan Abrahams of Penton Media explained at a recent Road to Revenue tour stop, “The welcome programs allow us to welcome new customers in a targeted and meaningful way and keep them engaged. They’re critical in exposing our customers to all our related products, improving their knowledge of what we offer, which in turn results in more potential sales and brand loyalty.”

2. Membership has its Privileges
Companies are realizing the value of great content, making it more plentiful and available. Oddly, we often forget our own customers are eager to consume that content. Customers should be first to hear about your cool video or new app, about your events and early bird discounts, and should get precious sneak peeks at your product road map or company directions.

At Eloqua, we use a multi-channel approach, using traditional tools like customer newsletters and our online community Topliners. It’s a place not only for the latest details on our products, but also where new customers can mingle with veterans to get inspired and comforted. Over time, fans grow into Advocates who help us expand into new divisions and champion our offerings to their peers inside and outside of their companies.

3. Apply Prospecting to Your Customers
Profile data, digital body language and social media help you understand what your prospects care about. Customers are no different. A customer expressing interest in a certain topic can be nurtured with information about related topics and products. This is the essence of upselling: creating and finding opportunities to increase customers’ commitment to your business.

That said, be careful about the amount of communication you provide customers. There is a real danger of overloading them. Much like your marketing database, database management best practices apply to your customers, too.

If you’re going to be at the SiriusDecisions Summit, don’t miss John Bokelmann, Director, Marketing Campaign Management & Operations for LexisNexis Risk Solutions, talk on how onboarding campaigns get new users up and running faster.

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