SalesMainKilling two birds with one stone is always a plus for busy small business owners. Following up with your customers after the sale not only improves your customer service, but it’s also a great way to increase sales. It’s simple, really: The more you communicate with your customers, the more you’ll be top-of-mind when they’re ready to make their next purchases. Here’s how to create a post-sale follow-up plan that keeps customers buying.

Develop a system. Systematize your follow-up program so all your salespeople and/or customer service reps are on the same page and nothing falls through the cracks. You can use CRM software to automate reminders and even some of the outreach, such as sending follow-up emails or offers.

Time it right. Determine the appropriate time frame for the initial follow-up. For a product, you want to give the customer time to receive the product (if it was shipped to them), use it and work out any initial kinks. For a service, it’s best to follow up shortly after the service was performed to make sure everything is working as expected.

Choose your methods. Depending on your business and your customer base, different follow-up methods will be appropriate. For instance, if you sell a B2B service that requires lots of hand-holding, you’ll probably want some type of personal follow-up, such as a phone call or visit to the customer. If you sell products to consumers online, an email to see if they’re satisfied with their recent purchases and asking them to submit product reviews might be all it takes. If your customers are senior citizens, who are typically less tech-savvy and enjoy getting mail, you might send a follow-up letter or postcard.

Solve problems. The first goal of follow-up is to see if the customer was satisfied with the product or service and to resolve their questions or concerns. Take note of any information that could be useful in improving your product or service. Only after you’ve made sure the customer is happy should you move on to upselling.

Upsell. Once you know the customer is happy, tactfully suggest additional products or services that could complement the purchase. Depending on the situation, this can be done at the same time as the initial follow-up, or in a letter, phone call or email later. Offering a discount, package deal or other special offer based on their recent purchase works well, too.

Lather, rinse and repeat. Plan to touch base with the customer on an ongoing basis, such as:

  • At regular service intervals (such as when the client needs a dental exam or HVAC servicing)
  • On dates when you know a product is likely to need replacement
  • On an anniversary (a year after a customer bought a birthday present for his or her child)
  • When you have a sale or special offer