While we all know the importance of prospecting, too many sales people focus on prospecting for new business, to the detriment of current clients and their own bottom line. And the amount of effort one puts into landing a new client is said to be five-to-10 times the effort required to retain that client. In other words, prospecting is much harder work than generating repeat business. So what are some of the steps you can take to ensure your customer stays with you and expands their business with your business? Here are three key activities that will build trust and future business opportunities.
1. Tie your products or services to the customer’s bottom line
In today’s world the bottom line is a high priority. It was a high priority yesterday too, but more and more companies want to know what you and your product or service will do to impact their sales, overall business growth and their long-term success. Keeping this in mind, it’s important for you to demonstrate how your product or service will increase their revenue and gross profits. Knowing how your customer makes money and measures their success must become one of your key goals.
First, keep it simple. When I sit down with business owners, I ask straightforward questions that will keep me close to the customers’ goals such as:
- How does your business work and how do you make money?
- What are your immediate and long-term goals?
- Is there anything we’re not doing that we could be doing to serve you better?
- What are the most important actions we can focus on to improve your business, sales and bottom line?
- What has changed in your business since we first started doing business together?
I know some of you would say you should know that already, and I say, no kidding! But asking these questions will get you information that no website or research can match, and enable you to maintain their business for the long haul.
2. Build relationships with multiple players in the organisation
Doing this will ensure greater support for your services. Some sales people miss the opportunity to introduce themselves to others in the businesses they’re visiting. Maybe they think the individual is too low on the totem pole to influence any decisions.
As far as I’m concerned, everyone within an organisation has significance in future decisions. Who knows when that one person might get a promotion to the position where you need their help?
Or, how many times have you met someone in a company and they get hired at another company that ends up calling you. Why would they choose to call you? Because you became the mayor of your account. You treat each contact as the most important person when they’re in front of you.
Last month I made over 200 canvassing calls with a variety of sales people and you wouldn’t believe the insider knowledge we found from bellhops to security guards. By listening to everyone we encountered, we gleaned information that made a huge difference when we were in front of the VP and knew things about the organisation that even she didn’t know. Take the time to build as many relationships as you can. It will make a difference in the long run.
3. Let go of accounts that waste your time and money
Cut your losses with accounts that never seem to appreciate the value of your services; they take away from building the accounts that will pay off in the long run. They constantly hammer you on price, ask for everything for nothing and end up sucking the life out of you. Go after more qualified accounts so you can afford to pick and choose.
Proactive selling to your existing clients not only grows your sales, it builds your confidence and deepens relationships, too. Hmm, I can work less while still growing my sales? Now that’s a win-win.