One of the most obvious reasons you should be building brick walls around your existing clients is to reduce the impact of aggressive competitor activity: Whilst you are off flirting with seemingly more attractive and exciting new opportunities, your competitors will be targeting your “home base”
The motivation to do this should be strong. Whilst this has almost become a cliché, it is a harsh reality – it now costs fifteen times, yes, that’s what I said, fifteen times – as much to locate, qualify and sell to a new prospect as it does an existing customer.
In order for you to appreciate the significance of that number, try and calculate the costs involved with all the pre-sales activity that you were involved in the last time you won a new client/customer, and now subtract that from the gross margin you claimed on that deal… substantial eh! But it’s OK, your company probably absorbed those costs and it didn’t affect your commission?
May I give you three tips to start building those brick walls around your best customers?
As the end of the year approaches, I advise you to consider conducting formal account reviews with all of your most important customers/clients – either face-face or if that is not possible, then via the phone. It should be a non-sales event, which will allow you to discover what business might be forthcoming from each client/customer in 2015. It will also differentiate you, because this type of initiative is still, sadly, not common practice.
Second, when was the last time you asked your clients/customers how often they would like you to contact them? And have you ever asked them their preferred method of communication- i.e. email/personal visit/telephone? Carry out a survey; you might just be surprised at the results.
Third, map out your most important client’s organization chart, and then try to extend your area of influence. Why? Because most sales professionals tend to inhibit their influence in important accounts by making one or two strong contacts, and then believe they have it all sewn up. This is folly. Most decision-making units consist of more than two people, so whilst you are busy selling to one or two people who are already sold on you and your services/solutions, watch out for the politically astute competitor who is gradually covering all of the bases.
Always remember that the one term that sets top performers apart is “customer focus.”