5 Ways To Close New Customers Without Offering An Introductory Discount

"Image courtesy of iosphere / FreeDigitalPhotos.net"

“Image courtesy of iosphere / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”

Part of bringing on new customers is about closing the deals with them. There are many ways around this and often offering an introductory discount is the most popular. But this strategy often lowers profits and doesn’t guarantee long term clientele as once the discount has gone, so might the customer.

Therefore you have to think of other routes which you can take to ensure you are able to close the sale. Here are five high performing methods you could implement today.

1. The Balance Sheet Technique

Whether a business client or individual, a buying decision is an emotional decision based on a list of the pros and cons of the purchase. The balance sheet technique is about influencing the list by offering arguments on both sides.

A good sales person will always have pros which outnumber and outweigh the cons and it is always important to ensure you end the spiel on a positive. You should also ask your potential customer of their thoughts before you make the list. That way you can tailor your pros to combat their negatives.

2. Negative Assumptions

‘Negative assumptions’ is about having the potential client confirm their interest or intent to buy the product by giving a negative response to a question. Asking the client: “Is there anything which is stopping you from buying this product today?” or “Are there any concerns you have about the service?” are great examples of this approach.

This way you are making the customer reject their barriers to purchasing.

Though there is a problem that if they do come back with a negative reason you need to be prepared with a response.

3. Time Sensitive Issue

Nothing works better at closing a deal than giving the impression that what is on offer will only be available for a limited time. This works really well with products but can also be used with services. You can always tell potential customers you are only signing up a certain number of clients to your products, or that with demand as it is, prices may increase in the near future.

The fear of losing out because they have not completed the deal on time might backfire should your reasons for the limited time never occur. For example, if you say prices may increase and they never do, consumers may feel cheated and leave your service.

4. Provide Life Changing Advice

If you want to go for the long term consider signing up your potential customers for your emailing list. Then send them articles and useful tips which can help solve their problems. This is the best method to establish your business as an authority in the industry. The more knowledgeable and the more influence you have in their lives the higher the chance your audience is going to come and buy from you.

This is a rather long route approach and it could cost you in the short term. But email marketing is the third best sales performer after organic and direct searches.

5. The Workflow Option

If you have a potential customer who has a c

ertain deadline but they are not favourable to the deal you can use a workflow system to close the deal. This is when you get them to confirm the date at which they would like the work to be completed and then demonstrate how your product / service can help them achieve this.

You need to make clear that your timeframe only works because you have started the process at that moment (also using the time sensitive approach) and you should ask what will happen if they don’t meet those deadlines.

Closing a sale needn’t mean that you are offering lower cost prices. There are many options for closing a sale, many of which will not cost you anything. But whatever the outcome you must always consider the impression you leave on the customer. After all they might not buy today, but they could do in the future.

Do you need recurring billing and subscription management software? Contact one of our experts at info@fusebill.com, call or check out the Fusebill free trial.

How To Increase Renewals For Your Subscription Business

"Image courtesy Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net"

“Image courtesy Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”

Recurring subscribers and renewals could account for 40% or more of your revenue. Ensuring you have a process in place to improve your retention is vital for the financial stability of your business. To do this you must put in place a set of procedures which actively engage and encourage current subscribers to stay with you.

It is estimated that only 21% of all businesses have a sales team whose sole job is to retain clients. Yet this team could be the most cost effective in your entire business. It is far easier to sell to a current or previous customer than it is to sell to a new one.

Therefore, you need to come up with ways to increase the number of current customers who stick with your business. Here are several tips to help you get started.

1. Ensure You Build A Relationship With Your Clients

When you are in the initial stages of selling your product with new customers, you are unlikely to know anything about your prospects. This means that you are often taking guesses at their requirements and desires in order to sell the benefits of your product.

Once they are a customer you can start to learn more about them what they want. This means when it comes to renewals you can heavily focus on your clients’ requirements and therefore improve the retention rate.

Of course one of the biggest ways to build a solid relationship with your customers is to deliver on your original sales promise. By doing this you will find your customers will learn to trust your business.

2. You Are Better Than Your Competitors

At the end of a contract very few customers are unlikely not to need the service or product you are offering, yet they may look for another provider. To avoid losing valuable customers to your competition you need to concentrate on what your competitors are doing and how they are performing.

By keeping an eye on how your competitors are performing you can demonstrate to your customers why it has been a wise choice to be with your business. It also supports why your clients should renew their subscriptions and contracts with your business.

3. Give Special Offers Based On Usage

Every one of your customers is unique. They are likely to use your services or products differently than that of your other customers. If you are able to monitor this you can determine what is really interesting your client and then re-sell them your package based on those observations.

You can take this process up a level and offer a special deal which is tailored around their usage. For instance, phone operators may notice that a customer’s calls make up 82% of their bill whereas SMS messages are worth 10%, with internet usage at 8%. The service provider could therefore offer a deal where their calls are cheaper but the SMS and internet usage are the same or slightly more.

4. Give Discounts Based On Their Length Of Custom

Similar to the above, customers who have been with your company for an extended period of time could be offered a discount for continuing on. Provided you have a sensible discount level the cost can be afforded because it is cheaper to maintain current customers than acquire new ones.

5. Ensure You Are Contacting The Customer Early

One of the biggest failings of businesses is not that they don’t offer the deals or the renewal, but that they don’t do it early enough. Therefore you should always attempt to contact the client at least one month in advance and talk honestly with the client about their renewal.

Catching them early enough will lessen the chance they have searched for an alternative supplier of your services or products.

Renewals are cost effective revenue streams. It costs far less to have an old client renew than acquiring a new client. This strategy does require you to invest the time and energy to create an efficient renewal system, customer service experience and to ensure you deliver on your original sale goals.

Do you need recurring billing and subscription management software? Contact one of our experts at info@fusebill.com, call or check out the Fusebill free trial.

How To Increase Your Prices Without Upsetting Customers

Image courtesy of Kittisak / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Kittisak / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It is a simple fact of business life that as you continue to grow and expand – costs rise. This is a natural process that can occur from increases in numbers of employees, increases in wages and suppliers raising their prices to name a few reasons.

At some point you will have to consider whether or not to raise your own prices, yet this can be met with some resistance by your customers.

Some previously loyal customers may leave your business in order to find other service providers. Others could be speaking more to your customer services, taking up valuable employee time. This is probably why many businesses decide to absorb rising costs themselves rather than face the wrath of their customers.

Increasing your prices without upsetting all your customers is possible. However, it requires a significant amount of planning and skill to achieve. Here are some of the methods you can use in order to raise prices and still maintain the majority of your customer base.

1. Surprise And Delight Your Customers

The first trick starts long before you need to increase your prices. If you are able to satisfy the needs of your customers and excel their expectations they are likely to tolerate the odd price rise. On the other hand, should you only just be managing to support them and they are often finding mistakes or problems with your service, they are not going to want to pay more.

This doesn’t mean the odd mistake should prevent you from increasing your prices as long as you are quick at dealing with any problems to the customer’s satisfaction.

2. Communication

You need to ensure you are explaining when and why you are going to raise the price of your services. Customers like to know in advance for their own financial planning and providing a solid reason for the price increase can help them be more understanding.

Giving at least two months warning is probably the best time frame, enough time to plan for the increase yet close enough that it is not forgotten when the new price on the invoice comes in.
Avoid using the excuse of rising costs. This may be a primary reason, yet some businesses using this model come under heavy scrutiny. Some organisations have increased their prices, blamed on higher costs of resources, only weeks before they announce an even larger increase in profits.

As a business you have to make money but customers will not be kind if they see your wealth increase when you’ve told them you’re facing increased pricing.

Instead time your price increases to coincide with other positive changes to the company, perhaps new infrastructure, i.e. new technology being implemented or something else which will benefit your clients. If they see they will gain from the price increase then it will be received more favourably.

3. Add Extra Benefits

Follow the example of Amazon Prime or magazine subscriptions. When they increase the prices they offer customers more features. In Amazon’s case they add more content to their service, giving customers more choice. Magazines will often become larger or decrease the number of advertisements in their publication.

If you can find a way to add features to your service during your price increase you can be sure customers will not mind so much.

4. Do Smaller Amounts More Frequently

Probably one of the biggest mistakes is that companies do not raise their prices soon enough or do it in too big a jump. Customers are going to be more resistant should you increase your price by $5 every two or three years than if you do it $0.50-$0.75 every year.

Many companies do this because they are fearful of losing customers with a price increase. Yet with good communication and an excellent service, a smaller amount is more likely to be overlooked by customers.

5. Restructure / Redesign Your Products

One way of increasing prices is to restructure your products and hide the increase amongst the bigger changes. Sky TV and other satellite TV providers do this frequently by rebranding and renaming their channel bundles.

In these circumstances it can be tough for your clients to see the price increase. Instead they are likely to be studying the new features and structure and comparing it to the old. This may cause some customer service problems, but your agents could be trained to deflect concerns with explaining how the new structure improves the service.

Increasing your prices is a natural part of being in business. Ensure you inform your customers with a good reason and in a timely manner. Also remind them of the benefits of your service at this time and often the majority of your customers will stay with your business.

Do you need recurring billing and subscription management software? Contact one of our experts at info@fusebill.com, call or check out the Fusebill free trial.

 

7 Lessons From 7 Subscription-Based Online Businesses

"Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net"

“Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”

There are many advantages to owning and running a subscription based business. However, there are also pitfalls. Here are 7 lessons from 7 subscription based businesses to keep your business moving in the right direction.

1. Remember Your Customer Acquisition Costs (Hubspot)

A subscription based business is excellent for generating revenue on a consistent basis. However you must consider the customer acquisition cost in comparison to your monthly subscription. For instance, if you charge customers $20 for being a member to your site but it costs $50 to acquire in the first month, you have a $30 deficit.

In the long run, if the customer stays for at least three months you’ll make a profit. However, in the first month you are making a loss of $30. For one customer that is nothing, however say you have 1,000 new customers in your first month then you’ll have a $30,000 loss. If you achieve the same results in the next month you’ll have a $40,000 loss. You would eventually breakeven in the fourth month.

This scenario doesn’t count for any other costs either. Therefore you must ensure that you have the capital saved to acquire customers.

2. Consider Your Customer Successes (SalesForce)

Any subscription business depends on the customers renewing their contracts or subscriptions. Therefore your business needs to support the success of your clients and if they see the value of your business and are satisfied with your services they will continue with their membership.

You can then implement a pattern where you cross or upsell to your customers.

3. Get Your Marketing Right (Andrew and Daryl Grant workshop)

If you want people to subscribe to your membership site you have to get the marketing right. There are several options for you to consider with this. Many people think of social media, pay-per-click (PPC), affiliate programs and blogging.

Each method has distinct advantages and disadvantages. Consider which one will be best to communicate with your audience and concentrate on it, with perhaps one or two other methods in a smaller role.

4. Don’t Put Off Until Tomorrow What You Can Do Today (Writers’ Huddle)

Ali Luke has run many membership sites which take a monthly subscription. At first Ali was reluctant to setup a site until confident in the amount of content she had and when she felt ready. However, she states this was a simple mistake.

Her advice is always to start the subscription as soon as possible because you’ll never be fully ready for what awaits you.

5. Price Yourself Right (Blog Mastermind)

You have to carefully consider your pricing point. Certainly you can have a look at your competitors. However this doesn’t always provide you with the full picture. For example, some membership sites can have similar content but charge drastically different monthly fees.

Therefore try testing out a few price points and see what level of conversion you get. The price point is all about what value our customers place on your service.

6. Not actively developing your product in line with market demands (MySpace)

Even though MySpace is free for users, it is still has the same functions of a subscription based business. Therefore we can learn from one of their biggest mistakes: not developing the product to meet customer expectations.

MySpace was one of the biggest social media networks very early on and was even poised at one moment to buy Facebook. However, that deal fell through and Facebook continued to develop in line with what customers wanted. The end result was that users left MySpace never to return and the value of the business has plummeted.

7. Selling to Strangers (http://gihanperera.com)

One of the reasons why subscription sites work is that users trust the subscription site. Strangers however do not have that trust with your business and therefore selling to them is almost pointless. If they do subscribe they are likely to be short-lived.

Therefore ensure you build a relationship up with your clients before you ask them to subscribe to your business.

Owning a subscription based business can be lucrative. You can generate a steady stream of income, create customer loyalty and sell other products and services to your members. However, running a subscription service isn’t always easy. Only by studying the advice from others, can you avoid common mistakes and have a better, more profitable business.

Do you need recurring billing and subscription management software? Contact one of our experts at info@fusebill.com, call or check out the Fusebill free trial.

The Psychology Of Auto-Billing Your Customers

"Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net"

“Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”

Auto-billing or automatically invoicing your customers can have a significant effect on your business. Many businesses use this billing method to save time and have their payments processed more efficiently, these often include businesses which provide regular and standard services to their customers.

But how does auto-billing affect your business and customers? And how can you make the system more effective for you?

1. Customers Don’t Like Surprises

Customers don’t like unexpected bills suddenly arriving. Auto-billing works around this by giving a set date and an amount which the customer can expect to pay. With this information your customers can plan their finances so they have the funds necessary to settle their accounts.

Being prepared will allow the customer to feel in control. You’ll also find because they are expecting the bill they will be more accepting and less likely to challenge any aspect. Therefore you can save time with customer service.

This can however backfire when your customers have used more than they expected and as a result receive a higher bill. If there is a possibility that this may occur, then you need to ensure there are several elements within your billing process including:

  • Careful monitoring so you can show the customer their usage and where extra charges have been incurred.
  • A period of warning so the customer can take action either by speaking to you directly about the extra charges or by ensuring the extra funds are made available by the payment due date.

2. It Builds Trust

Building a strong relationship between you and your customers is essential for retaining them in the long run. Having a reliable billing service allows the customer to build trust in your brand. Customers are more likely to retain the services of brand they know and trust than move to a competitor even if prices are lower.

Therefore as a business, you need to ensure your auto-billing is consistent. Have your bills go out on the same date every month, probably one of the better days for this would be the 1st, and avoid the 29th – 31st of months.

3. Auto-billing Means Fewer Mistakes Via Human Error

Some of the biggest mistakes made on manual invoicing are simply caused by human error. Auto-billing removes the human element from the system and therefore the chances of this is less. With fewer mistakes on invoices, customers will see your business as more professional.

For this to become a better asset you have to ensure your monitoring system for u

sage is reliable. A good performing monitoring system will mean less customer enquiries on their bills.

4. It Gives You More Time To Delight Your Customers

Without having to manually calculate and process invoices you can assign your staff to other tasks. This can include other productive outlets, to provide add-on services to surpass your customers’ expectations and again retain their loyalty.

You will also find that because there are fewer mistakes, you will be fielding less billing enquiries and you will also feel more efficient when you don’t spend hours calculating and forwarding bills on to your customers, giving you more freedom to spend time on what you are good at.

Conclusion

Auto-billing can be a great process to start using in your business. It can help you to achieve a better relationship with your customers and allow you to spend more time on performing the tasks you are best suited for. Therefore review your business’ invoicing system to see how you can set-up and implement an auto-billing system.

Do you need recurring billing and subscription management software? Call or email one of our experts at info@fusebill.com, call 888.519.1425 or check out the Fusebill free trial.

4 Invoicing Tricks For Getting Paid On Time By Your Clients

Image courtesy of hin255 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of hin255 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Getting paid on time is essential if you want to run a successful business. Having to chase payments which are not coming in on time from your clients is an ineffective waste of time and costs your business. According to research conducted in 2012, small business owners are being crippled by $1.2 billion worth of late payments.

Therefore you want to ensure that you employ effective methods to guarantee that the majority of your clients are paying on time.

Here are the top four tricks you can use in order to get paid on time:

1. Establish Clear Payment Terms at the Start of the Contract

Ensure that you have the payment details organised with the client when you create the initial agreement. In this document clearly state both the time the invoice will be sent and the date on which it is expected to be paid by.

It is also a good idea to include in this document penalties for late payment.

If a client does not pay on time then you can show them the clear terms of the contract.

2. Enforce Late Penalty Charges / Early Payment Discount

Sometimes you have to resort to late penalty charges in order to ensure you are getting paid on time. Laws vary between countries in regards to what you can charge. Some legislation allows you to charge interest on what you are owed.

This might not stop a late payment in the first case, but if you are strict and show that you are willing to charge a late penalty the first time round – a second late payment is unlikely to occur.

On the other side, you could always offer a small discount for those who pay by a certain date. Companies are always looking for ways to cut costs and therefore by offering a way to do so by paying on time will create an attractive proposal.

3. Make Sure Payment is Received Before You Deliver the Final Product

Once you have completed the project, hold back enough and ask for the final payment before you deliver the remainder. Some small business owners think this is rather unprofessional, but there are a number of cases where the owner of a small business has given over the final product only for the payment not to be forthcoming.

Some technical businesses can get round this by including a shut off switch where they can stop the use of their product if payment is not made – but for others sometimes having a reassurance of the final payment can be a useful tool.

4. Recurring Billing

Sometimes the best way to ensure you are paid on time is to switch to recurring payments in which your clients will set up and make regular payments for your product / service. This can be easily arranged and you can stop work at any time should a payment be missed.

This is an excellent method if you provide a regular service for your clients and it makes it easier for your clients to know exactly what they have to pay and when. The recurring billing can even be setup so that it is done automatically.

There are a number of different options for you to ensure you are getting paid for the work which you have completed. With careful planning you can reduce the number of clients who fail to pay for your products, but also make sure you have clear guidelines in place on how you will respond to those who do not pay on time, to avoid its re-occurrence.

Do you need recurring billing and subscription management software? Call or email one of our experts at info@fusebill.com, call 888.519.1425 or check out the Fusebill free trial.