Repeat Business: How to Sell More to the Customers Who Already Love You

While it’s tempting to be chasing the next new customer all the time, that actually can be an expensive strategy. Certainly, you need to set up a marketing funnel to attract new customers, but so many small business owners forget to systematically reach out to past customers who already know and (hopefully) like them.

In fact, it’s much easier – and more profitable – to sell deeper into your existing customer base. For one thing, the sales cycle is probably shorter. And, if you need to bring in some cash quickly, a marketing campaign targeting recent buyers can work really well.

Here are five techniques to sell more to your previous customers:

1. Remind them

Whether you are a service provider or marketer of goods, sometimes your existing customers need a reminder.  If you are a hair stylist, personal trainer, housecleaner, or even accountant, just email or call to book the next appointment.  Even better- try to set it up during your current appointment.  Taking control of when your customer buys- instead of waiting for them- can be incredibly effective.

Also, think about target coupons. Does your POS system or another database keep track of specific items a customer purchased? If it doesn’t, it should.

You can set up notifications for when an item is expected to run out to remind the customer to buy it again. Personal toiletries are one example of a type of item that is easy to track.   Maybe even put them on a subscription service for their convenience and to ensure their repeat business—a win-win!

2. Have them refer a friend

People usually associate with people who are like them. If you have a client who loves your product or service, chances are they know someone – or several people – who might also like it.

Most people get a kick out of being the person who “found” something – the amazing bath salts, gourmet bakery, online retailer, etc. It’s really easy to generate a unique coupon code that someone can give to their friend(s) and then receive some kind of gift or discount if their friend redeems it when making a purchase.

How great would it be to have someone else do your marketing for you?  Don’t forget to reward them in some way if you can (based on industry requirements).  Businesses from Uber to Dropbox to Ellen Condren Design have all built their businesses on offering their current “referring” customers and the new customers as special incentive.

3. Remember their special days—or make one up!

Lots of restaurants and other retailers will ask you to provide your birthday or anniversary. With very little effort, they can set up a marketing campaign that triggers an email or postcard to be sent with a coupon or special freebie offer, hoping that you will spend some of your special day’s budget with them.

Even better, be cheeky about it.  Send them a half-birthday treat or coupon to set your services and goods apart when you know everyone else will be targeting their actual special day!

4. Have a BOGO sale

Buy one, get one for half off (or for free) is a time-honored retail practice. When a customer checks out, they are informed that on these upcoming dates there will be a special BOGO sale. The customer has just paid you for something, and yet you are asking them to come back at some point in the near future to make an additional purchase.

Now, as the customer is walking out of the store, they’re thinking about what else they would have liked to buy, and can now justify purchasing during the BOGO sale.

5. Simplify and upsell at online checkout

If a customer already has a login with their payment information entered, they’re more likely to hit the “Buy Now” button and complete the transaction. The easier you make it for them to check out the next time, the more likely they are to follow through on the purchase and not abandon their cart.

One great example of this is Amazon’s one click to buy functionality. Many people have followed through on impulse purchases because they make it oh so easy.

You can also have your cart make a special offer during the checkout process to try to upsell while they are already there.

As you can see, there are many tactics that you can try. Start with one or use a combination, whatever makes sense for your business.

Entice happy customers to come back and also do some strong marketing to generate interest and enthusiasm so new customers come in. This is a killer combination that will do wonders for your small business.

Ajeet Khurana
Ajeet Khurana
Ajeet Khurana wears many hats: author, angel investor, mentor, TEDx speaker, steering committee of the NASSCOM Start-Up Warehouse, Director of Founder Institute, Venture Partner with the seed initiative of a top Venture Capital firm, and former CEO of IIT Bombay’s business incubator, among others. Before all this, he was entrepreneurial twice in the field of education and web publishing. As a lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin, he taught e-commerce back in 1993, when the term "e-commerce" had not yet been coined. An undergrad in computer engineering from the University of Mumbai, and an MBA from the University of Texas, Ajeet is presently an active name in the startup ecosystem. From starting two ventures as a solopreneur, to helping a large number of startups with their go-to-market, he has never shied from getting his hands dirty. At the same time he has helped dozens of startups raise investment. He truly believes that small business owners are driving change in the world, and need to be facilitated as much as possible. Innumerable small businesses have gained from his attitude, vast professional networks, financial acumen and digital mindset.

See all posts by Ajeet Khurana
  • All views expressed on the published articles at are those of each of the authors, and do not in any way represent the opinions of Mastercard International Incorporated or any of its affiliates (“Mastercard”). Mastercard is not responsible of the information contained in these articles.