How Much Do You Know About Your Best Clients?

How do you build a better business by knowing more about your best clients than your competitors? Last week we talked about knowing how to qualify your prospects better. I got several notes asking how to develop a better business development system for your growing your business. I thought it might be helpful to provide you with a system I’ve used to help companies grow faster and more profitably.  This week I’ll give you an overview of how you can develop new bigger, more profitable client accounts while also seizing new opportunities within your current client base.

The first thing I counsel to my clients is focus on your current clients first. It costs less money to expand client engagements than to go out and get new clients.  That being said, I have always believed that your most valuable asset in getting and growing future clients is highlighting what you’re doing with your current clients. What do you know about your current clients?  Is it applicable to other clients that you might serve? For businesses between $10- 100 million in revenue, its best to try to position yourself as an expert to a more limited client base. It allows for more profitable growth while also keeping your sales costs in line.  Learning how to create highly successful products and services are critical to your organization’s success. Creating a marketing roadmap for your offering allows you to take advantage of additional opportunities in your market as your business continues to grow.

I use a three step process that I work extensively with clients on during their initial growth stages that allows for sustained success over the long term. 

The first step is looking at you current clients. Determine what factors they have in common. As the leader of your business, it’s your responsibility to really exploring why clients work with you. I find that working with teams across the company and not the sale professional provides me with information that might not be available through my sales representatives.  My consultants and customer service people know things that my sales person would never have access to through their normal sales cycles.  I schedule normal meetings with these key teams to uncover what might be going on in the industry and their areas of the business that isn’t common knowledge.

The second step is making sure that my sales and marketing teams have access to this information. I want my sales and marketing people getting real time information on what’s going on at my clients’ sites.  Having sales professionals in the loop on what’s happening at their clients is critical to their long term success. Since my sales professionals work with economic buyers they are likely not to have the best view on what is going on in other parts of their clients’ organizations.  The marketing people should be working with sales but not always listening to what the sales team wants. It’s a balancing act that good marketing people get, but don’t always act on. Because our sales professionals are responsible for more accounts, they must develop a system of gathering information on a regular basis while also keeping their account development strategies evolving as our business and our clients’ business continue to change.  During this phase the successful sales professional needs to treat both his internal customers with the same respect that he treats his external clients.

If you want to build a team of sales professionals you must invest time and money in helping them develop better account penetration strategies for your best clients. If you have decided you want to specialize in a niche you must be willing to provide tools that help your organization to do this. Sending teams to trade shows and specialty presentations is a great place to start building a bridge to your targeted community.  Having some of your key internal resources present at these programs is critical to positioning your business as a market leader.

I find when you assign your sales team the responsibility of identifying key trends in their markets and making sure that they keep their internal teams up to speed on what they see in the market creates as stronger account team for key clients. I have my sales professionals invite other team members to meetings and conferences so that they don’t always have to be at all these meetings creates a winning combination.  The marketing and customer service teams can do a great job representing your organization to peers in your target markets.   They can turn over leads and provide introductions to people within client organizations. Many of these contacts can become coaches for your sales team and provide critical information during your sales efforts.

Next week, we will talk about step three, how to create effective sales strategies and a market driven approach for growing your business.

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