For Great ROI, Sell More to Existing Customers

That — the title to this post — might seem obvious, but we forget so easily, as we struggle to grow the business, and especially as we contemplate an economic downturn (free-fall?). The best ROI is selling more per customer to existing customers.

I think I learned this first back 15-20 years ago when I was working a lot with U.S. computer dealers, before the Internet took off, when many of the smaller home-grown resellers were getting squeezed by the growth of the office superstores.

It turned out, as we studied the situation, that they were leaving lots of money on the table, not taking care of existing customers. For example, one of the best promotions I ever saw was a smaller store getting back to all of its customers and offering them memory upgrades and hard disk upgrades as a special sale. It was an instant bottom line boost.

I was reminded of this last week by a post on Seth Godin’s blog, The magic of low-hanging fruit. Here’s a quote:

Simple example: It’s way more profitable to encourage each of your existing customers to spend $3 than it is to get a stranger to spend $300. It’s also more effective to get the 80% of your customer service people that are average to be a little better than it is to get the amazing ones to be better still.

Yes. And, particularly in a recession, it’s really good business.



  • Andrew says:


    Exactly right.

    Servicing the needs of your existing clientele or customer base in an effective manner should be first priority. This includes the sale of additional products or services where such sales are relevant to the needs of your customer.

    For one thing, existing customers already have a relationship with your firm and are generally more likely to make additional purchases.

    For another thing, you already possess an understanding of their processes, how their business runs and what their needs are. This means that the process of providing additional products to existing clients is an easier, less expensive and more profitable exercise than that of starting from scratch with brand new clients.



  • Kendall says:

    If we're doing our job in professional services, next year should show 70% to 80% of our revenue bought by existing customers…and we may have doubled our sales! Customer retention is key to growth!

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