Tricks of the trade: How to get more business customers

In the first of a new regular series of articles offering advice, PCR asks retailers and members of Network Group how they went from targeting consumers to B2B customers, and what you can do to reach the latter.

Founder, PCs Made Simple

“We’ve just started to offer managed services. We do treat customers differently and the business customers we acquire normally come through two channels: Networking is one. We’re down in Bournemouth and it seems to be the networking hub of the UK – there are at least a couple of events every day. Most of them are networking sessions but that’s usually when the best conversations happen. The other way is when domestic customers come in and either own or work for a business, you’re sorting out their home laptop and do a good job for them, then you might get a call from the business owner asking for a coffee or a chat. But we do treat them differently because businesses spend more!

“I also write some editorial for a local business magazine – which is just hints and tips – and it goes out to around 1,800 registered businesses. We’ve had business through that. You want to give them some knowledge for free without giving them too much, so you can still charge them.”

MD, Micro Plus Computers

“Something we’re concentrating on very much in the next year is educating our retail customers about what we do for businesses, and our business customers about some of the retail services we offer. We look after quite a few big businesses that have hundreds of employees, who are potentially retail customers but don’t know about the things we offer. So as a staff member they could get a 20 per cent discount on repairs, like a loyalty card scheme, which we feel could potentially grab us 300 or 400 new retail customers quite easily.

“We’re also getting business customers coming to us that previously used us as retail customers, but didn’t know about what we offer to businesses. So we’re going to focus a lot on cross- pollination of the two groups. We’ve actually started selling TVs too – we put a few 55- inch TVs on the wall to make the place look good as the showroom is quite big. And we sold 20 in the first ten weeks of doing it. These are £500 or £600 TVs, and they’re just flying out. Our customers know they could go to John Lewis and get them a bit cheaper, but they come to us as a one-stop shop.

“Over half of the ones we’ve sold, we’ve charged £80 for delivery and service set up. So it’s unexpectedly been quite a good money-spinner. Then we’ve had off the back of that, people coming in and saying: ‘I hear you’re selling TVs’. So we’re getting new customers that way.”

Director, Utopia Computers

“Some IT retailers generate more business through cold calls, but it’s not always easy. Selling yourself over the phone and getting appointments is a skill.

“We looked at our top customers – the four guys that spend the most with us. And we asked, how much time do we give to them directly to get more sales from them?

“So we decided to make appointments with each of them, and off the back of it within a week we got a massive sale off one of the guys for a server, which I don’t think we would’ve got if we hadn’t have arranged this.

“You might find that 80 per cent of your revenue comes from 20 per cent of your customers. Are they really being looked after in a way that they should?”

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