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Your most valuable selling asset is your CUSTOMER LIST
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In the 1980’s I saw one of my competitors, Sears, drawing my prospects and customers to their store by offering them short and long term buying credit terms. So, of course I figured if it worked for them it would work for me. And it did. I arranged credit for my customers with a local finance company. But Sears was still drawing customers away from me. Many of which I did not even have the opportunity to sell because they, the customers, never came to my businesses, they went directly to Sears when they
needed to make a purchase.
So, I did what most sellers will never do. I asked the prospects I was losing to Sears why they did not come to my store to make their purchases. I discovered they never thought of me or at least thought of Sears first.
Sears knew something I didn’t. A customer is most likely to shop a business that they are carrying a plastic credit card in their pocket or pocketbook for. Sears connected the customers to their store with that plastic credit card. People purchasing on credit felt it was easier to lay down their plastic credit card on the counter than to fill out a credit application at my business. Plus, they felt they had credit available at Sears because they had the credit card in their pocket.
I could not issue my customers a credit card. I did not carry my own paper, I used a local finance company. So, I did the next best thing. I issued my customers, the ones on my customer list, notice I said customers, not credit worthy customers a plastic buying card. We named it Janet’s Credit Express. It clearly stated on the back of the card that it was a buying card which entitled the named holder Preferred Credit Privileges. No one ever questioned that the plastic buying card was not a real credit card. When we were presented with the card, we filled out a credit application and proceeded the normal credit verification process. If the customer was not credit worthy, we could not sell them on credit, but most of the time they purchased using cash or lay-a-way because they felt connected to our store through the perception of the plastic card they carried in their pocket.
It was not long after that I saw the credit card companies figure it out too. No more exclusivity. Everyone is sent credit cards in the mail. They, like me, discovered when the customer is connected to your business they purchase more products and services more often.
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