New vs. Repeat Business


Once upon a time, I worked for a business in which salespeople were paid bonuses for prospecting. In other words, they were incentivized to find brand new customers. This seems like a logical thing to do, as it allows you to grow your customer base. However, salespeople, like the rest of us, have only so many hours in the day for work. The result then is that a focus on prospecting leads to a lessened emphasis on existing customers.

Upon a very basic superficial analysis of our sales data, we suspected that this incentive program was flawed. So, we undertook a more detailed analysis of our customer sales history. What we discovered was that the average order size of repeat customers was more than double that of brand new customers. This was definitely an eye opener. And, this was before considering the fact that repeat customers purchased from the business multiple times, whereas a large number of new customers never returned.

Based on this, we completely flipped the incentive program to focus on repeat business. This led to increased order sizes, more repeat orders, increased commissions for salespeople, and more profitability for the company.

The point is to not neglect your existing customers. You already have them. They purchased from you for a reason. Give them reasons to come back. Focusing solely on new business is bad practice. While you need to attract new customers, definitely nurture those who already give you money.