Auction Sales – Keeping Customers You Worked So Hard To Get!
Congratulations, your auction was successful, payment received and now it’s time to ship the item(s) to the customer.
You’ve got the product, the address label, the box, the packaging, etc. but are you missing a great opportunity to bring customers back to your auctions or store?
If you’ve studied business concepts you know that finding a customer can be the most expensive part of the sales process. Once you’ve got a customer why not maximize the money you’ve already invested in the effort?
This time honored business concept certainly falls under the category of going the extra mile for a customer. Assuming your product, customer service, packaging and shipping all work together to create a positive feedback posting, here are a few simple ideas companies have been utilizing for years to help them stand out from the crowd and maximize the return on sales dollars:
Personalized Thank You
Every package you send to a customer should include a personalized thank you letter. Personalized means there is a salutary greeting such as “Dear Customer Name” and your personalized signature. Why personalized? Ever hear the old sales adage, “Don’t sell the product – sell the person?” It’s taught to sales professionals because it works. A friendly thank you note near the end of a good transaction (more on this later) reminds the buyer they are thought of as a person, not just another sale or number. A personalized touch in today’s impersonal marketplace is very refreshing.
The body copy of the note or letter is certainly up you but should be as specific to the transaction as possible (if you also include a packing slip/invoice the letter can be a little more generic). The goal of the note is to let the customer know they, and the sale, are important to you. Here’s a short example:
Dear (Customer Name)
I just wanted to personally thank you for your winning bid on our (product name), Item #11111111111, enclosed. Our customers are very important to us. We realize you have a choice in selecting who you buy from and we greatly appreciate your business – now and in future.
Drop-ins and gifts
A drop-in or gift provide extra chances to say thank you, create customer loyalty, increase future sales, and maximize your return on the investment of finding your customers. As an example let’s say you’re selling pet supplies. For a few pennies each you can have refrigerator magnets printed like business cards that include your company name, email, eBay store, or website address. They can be as simple or complex as you can afford but only need to include something like:
Acme Pet Supplies (Your company name)
For All Your Pet’s Needs (A marketing line is a good idea)
Your Website Address (Either a link to your website or auctions)
Other inexpensive drop-ins and gifts could be something as simple as a business card, a sales sheet listing all the product types you carry, a gift certificate (to be used on your e-commerce website) for a future purchase, or an offer for your free newsletter. If you’re selling kitchen products you could include your favorite recipe, or if you’re selling poker supplies – a print out of the best starting hands might be nice.
Closing the Sales Cycle
Do you remember my comment earlier when I mentioned “near the end of a good transaction”? If you consider sending the product (with a thank you note, drop-in or gift) the end of the sales process you are missing another great opportunity to increase sales and improve you customer relations. Don’t consider the sales process completed until you send your valued customer one more email. About a week or ten days after shipping the product, send a follow-up email such as:
Dear Customer Name (again, make it as personal as possible):
Just wanted to follow up on our transaction and make sure everything went smoothly for you. We trust everything went well but if you had any problems please let us know. We are always looking for ways to improve our service and your input is very important to us. We will post positive feedback for you and hope you’ll do the same for us. We look forward to doing business with you again in the future.
(Suggestion: To avoid spam filters, in the subject line of your email include the eBay or auction item name and number)
Are the efforts to include a note, a drop-in, a gift, and do follow-ups a little more work and expense? Of course, but with the aid of simple automation packages on your computer the follow-ups can be somewhat automated and the drop-in or gift will help you create a returning customer.
Copyright 2005 Steven Woodward All Rights Reserved
Steven Woodward is the owner, editor and publisher of the Auction Sellers Network (ASN); a web site for individuals and companies who are serious about utilizing the online auction marketplace for their business. In addition to topical articles, ASN provides an extensive resource center, news feeds, member forums and classified ads. For more information or to become a member visit http://www.AuctionSellersNetwork.com.