I came across an article this morning in my daily online reading entitled, ‘5 strategies B2B marketing and sales teams can bank on as markets tighten.’ Looks interesting, I thought… so I clicked on the link to read it.
And while the overall article was just OK, the first item on its list is what really caught my eye: ‘Stop chasing leads, double down on customers…’ The author is right, I thought… but only partially.
Doubling down on customers shouldn’t just be your top priority during difficult times, it should be your top priority ALL the time!
Do this. Take a look at all of the clients you did business with over the past 12 months. Now, for each one, ask yourself this question, “Do we have 100% of the available business there?” I’m willing to bet – with maybe one or two exceptions – that the answer is “no.” That you have a small (maybe very small) ‘share of wallet’ with most clients. So, start there for this year… and here’s why:
- In our B2B world, buyers will never buy from you until they get to know you – then like you – then trust And it can take a long while for that to happen with a new sales prospect. But your current clients have already traveled that path! And even spent money with you. The hard part of the buyer-seller relationship is behind you.
- I’ve read many studies over the years that state that it’s 5-25X more expensive to acquire a new client then to keep an existing one. In good times or bad… targeting existing clients sounds like a very smart business strategy to me.
So, if focusing on existing clients should be your #1 marketing and sales strategy, how do you go about it?
Expand your reach. If you’re working with a Fortune 1000 company and have earned only a small percentage of the business, it’s likely that you have only one or two (probably one) key contacts there. If that’s the case, then your goal should be to get to know more people in that organization… in other roles, other departments, and working on other brands.
- This strategy has another [huge] benefit. Often, if your relationship with a company is through one person (and this is frequently the case, especially with large clients) and that person leaves (which they almost always do), you lose that company’s business. Having relationships with multiple contacts can help keep that from happening.
Up-sell/Cross-sell. When you see opportunities with your client to enhance the structure of a project in an effort to improve results, you have an obligation to offer up a recommendation. This generally happens in one of two ways:
- Up-selling: That is, selling more of the same. For example, recommending that your focus group study be expanded into four markets, instead of three, to ensure better national representation.
- Cross-selling: That is, selling services that are complimentary to what your client is already buying from you. For example, suggesting a ‘qual’ component be added to a ‘quant’ study to drill down into the responses.
Reconnect with former or lapsed clients. In the past, these clients knew you – liked you – and trusted They also spent money with you. But for some reason, they’ve not done business with you in a few years. Reach out and try to rekindle your relationship with them. The worst that can happen is that they say “no thanks”… in which case, you’re no worse off than you are now.
In good times or in challenging times, your top marketing and sales priority should be to “Keep what you got!” That is, to maintain and to grow your existing client base… then, as time, talent and resources become available, go after new clients. THAT is how you build a healthy, sustainable and growing business.