I often speak about good businesses from an investor perspective. One of the hallmarks of a good business is the ability and tendency to sell more, in volumes or value, to existing customers. This is what we all want to do in business and it’s referred to in sales as a growing back end. This was created by firstly gaining repeat business and working towards increasing the spend per customer as long as they stay with you – and you want that to be very long. So we gathered some great tips on how to achieve this holy grail of business.

Know Your Customers

The first port of call is to know your customer. You really cannot please someone you don’t know especially to the level where they repeatedly spend money on your business incrementally. Knowing your customer gives you invaluable insights into what they like about your product, what they dislike, what they combine it with and more vital information. You also get demographic data telling you who they are and why they choose your product. The saying a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush comes to mind. The insights of 1 customer, someone who parts with money for your product, are worth more than the insights of 10 random people.

Build Trust

Relationship building has another essential ingredient which is trust. Without trust its optimistic at best to expect a relationship to smooth longevity let alone any longevity. How do we build trust? This starts by delivering on your promise. That means not just what you say but what you do as well. That means everything from the quality of the product to the way you work with customers and interact with them. Zimbabwe is of course an uncertain business environment where surprises that change the way business is done are more likely than things staying the same, so there’s something else you should learn to do.


It always baffles me when businesses in Zimbabwe get into arguments or disagreements with customers over problems that have been caused by neither the business nor the customer. I have noticed a trend that treats businesses like super-beings that operate in a different environment from their customers. This is more the result of poor communication. It shows up in good times and bad and most importantly leaves a lasting impression on customers whether we like it or not. So learn to be human and communicate in both good and bad times.

Educate staff

You will have to spend time and even money educating your staff to make this dream possible. We cannot simply assume that employees will fit into the mould and do the right things to make this a reality. We need to work on the minds of the employees first. After all, our customers will experience the business through our employees and most of the time in your absence. So you want to have it in your employee training or refreshers so they have it in mind in all things they do that the goal is to keep customers and sell more to them.


It’s not all employees and communication, it’s also good business sense. Many (not that many) years ago I joined a food business that was a pop up fast food seller that targeted events and fairs. Great. Believing our menu which boasted impressive grilled ribs, wings and burgers. We kept the menu narrow and offered sides but neglected beverages thinking we would stick to our core business. It didn’t take long to realise that we needed to bundle our product with other products that people consume with it, such the beverages. That’s bundling! Be sure to look at both sides, that is things that bring people to your products or things that your product makes people go to.

I’ve worked in businesses that mistakenly spent more time looking for new customers rather than nurturing those that had already come through the door. Customer acquisition costs are high for new customers and selling more to existing customers is the hallmark of good business.