Which do you think is harder to do: sell something new to someone who has already bought from you in the past or convince a stranger to make his/her first purchase?

The answer is obvious: a person who has already purchased your product and is enjoying the benefits you promised is a prime target for additional sales.

That’s why it’s important to build on your existing customer relationships and “leverage” the trust you’ve earned with the following techniques:

After you make a sale, be sure to follow-up with the customer. Sending a thank-you email message is good manners and including an advertisement for other products you sell is good business. You could follow-up every few months, quarterly, send holiday greetings, birthday messages, etc.

When a consumer is ready to buy, you can upsell additional items. When they’re at your order page, tell them about related products you have for sale — if you’re selling Widgets, tell them about your Widget Cleaning Kit, or Customized Widget Covers. Make it easy (and economical) to add it to their original order.

Word-of-mouth is a huge sales generator. Give your customers an incentive for telling friends by offering them discounts for referrals. If possible offer a discount to your old customer AND his/her referral and then watch as one sale blossoms into dozens.

When you sell a product, give your customers the option of joining an affiliate program, so they can make commissions selling your product. A satisfied consumer is a great salesperson and your affiliate program can help you turn a single sale into a stream of orders.

You could cross-promote your product in a package deal. You can cross-promote your own products or enter into a partnership with another company. At the very least, you’ll get free “exchange” advertising. At the most, you’ll earn commissions for all the pass-along business. Just be sure that you’re cross-promoting items that are related to your product/service and that your customers would truly find interesting.

When you ship out or deliver your product, include a discount coupon for other related products you sell in the package.

Ever wonder how the “Barbie” empire thrives when the doll itself sells for just a few dollars? It’s the add-on products that make the difference — Barbie’s car, clothes, beauty shop, friends, etc. Tell your customers about upgrades, special services, attachments in a catalog. If consumers enjoy your product, they’ll be grateful for the information and likely to buy the extra add-ons.

Sell gift certificates for your products. You can offer either a “prepaid” gift certificate for a specific item or a dollar-amount certificate that would enable the recipient to make his/her own personal selection. (The second idea works extremely well because often the gift recipient will want something that’s more expensive than his/her certificate, and that means more dollars for you!)

Send your customers free products (sometimes called promotional items) with their product package. It could be bumper stickers, ball caps, t-shirts, etc. The key is to have your ad printed on the item. The gift is an instant — and long-term — billboard for your product or service.

Remember, a satisfied customer wants to keep doing business with the company that provided the satisfaction So gives the people what they want — easy (and frequent) ways to spend more money with someone they trust — you!