According to Gartner, organizations enjoy their best sales growth avenues from existing customers. They can unlock greater revenue and cross-sell/upsell opportunities by maximizing business with existing customers. The statistics are clear – companies are 6-7 times more likely to gain a new sale from an existing customer, compared to an only 5%-20% likelihood of closing a new lead.
However, because sales teams often measure their success (and find themselves measured) by their ability to gain new business, they’re often too busy and over-focused on generating and closing fresh leads while they leave customer success to service teams. But this perspective may be detrimental to sustainable business growth.
While maintaining a healthy pipeline is key to every company, it’s just as critical to find and exploit ways to grow existing customers. Yes, sales has done its job by closing valuable leads, but it also has a role to play in reinforcing customer loyalty.
Sales teams that prioritize current accounts:
If you’re keen on exploring ways to grow sales revenue through current customers, the following strategies can help.
Closing a deal feels exhilarating. It’s usually the culmination of a long and intense process and it’s one you should rightly celebrate. There’s also a temptation to view this point as the end of the sales process – but it shouldn’t. Instead, recognize that you can grow revenue by making time for your customers. Keeping communication lines open is the first step in doing this.
If you already use a CRM or other engagement tool with customers, it should be easy to continue communicating on that platform. Start the process by thinking about how long your typical customer relationship lasts and create a schedule to stay in touch with the client.
Plan to engage with the buyer at pre-defined checkpoints over the course of the relationship lifecycle. For instance, at the 15-day mark you can reach out to see if the customer has received their product and if they have any questions you can help with. Again, on day 30, you may offer them a free webinar that provides tips to get the best out of the product.
Leveraging a well-thought-out communication cycle puts you in position to seek honest feedback, elicit positive reviews, and even obtain valuable referrals at various points during the customer lifecycle. Even better, you’re in great shape to renew, upsell, or cross-sell the customer.
Referrals are a powerful sales tool because they build on your existing positive connection with a buyer. A referred customer needs much less convincing than a lead who came across your products independently. That’s why close rates are greater for referred buyers, and they have a higher retention rate, at 37%.
As a rule, your current customers will know other people that need the same product or service. Use this rule to your benefit by reaching out and meaningfully requesting referrals. You may identify specific accounts that you would like to close and request referrals to them. This strategy is generally more effective due to its specificity. Or you could request blanket referrals from your clients, particularly when it concerns B2C sales.
Ultimately, your execution of this strategy will depend on how your company operates. If you’re a B2B firm, going after specific accounts will be a more effective use of your time and the client resource available to you.
A great way to keep customers engaged and to reinforce a positive experience is to frequently reach out with value. While staying in touch with the customer is beneficial for you, you don’t want the customer seeing you as someone who only makes demands. That’s where maintaining a value conduit comes into play.
Again, how you execute this tactic depends on your company’s policy and your own natural strengths. Reaching out with a thoughtful email on special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries can do the trick. Remembering and sharing resources or items that the buyer enjoys is another option.
It doesn’t all have to involve personal engagement though. Your company’s marketing publications or helpful resources can also work a treat. For instance, you could share a list of best practices that helps the client maximize their purchase. However, remember to personalize whatever materials you send to the customer. You could point out specific points that you think would be valuable to the customers, for instance.
So as not to overwhelm your customers, it’s a great idea to use this tactic every two to three months. This way you can provide significant value without drowning the customer in a deluge of well-meant emails and calls.
While this strategy is mostly reactive, it complements the foregoing points if done well. All clients need help with questions, problems, or concerns and your customers are not likely to be different.
Although you may not have the skills to deal with the customer’s concerns when they arise, you can provide value by being the customer’s advocate. No one likes to feel like their problem isn’t getting enough attention. And customers like feeling shifted from one unit to another in search of a solution even less.
You can step in and note the customer’s problem for treatment by the correct department. You’ll provide even greater value by staying on the issue and following up with the customer to ensure a permanent solution. Ultimately, while the time spent as an ad-hoc customer service rep may feel like the time you could have spent winning deals, in the long run, you’ll benefit from a customer who trusts you and is more likely to take your call in the future.
The strategies shared above can help you deepen customer relationships, boost lifetime value, and strengthen customer loyalty. However, it’s important to recognize that growing relationships with existing customers is no easy business. It’s a long-term play that takes significant effort to cultivate and nurture.
Consequently, it makes sense to focus your efforts on accounts that (currently or potentially) provide the most value for your organization. If that feels overwhelming, start by identifying your ten most valuable customers and implement these tactics for them.
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With our executive recruiters, you get senior partner-led searches, due diligence-run networking, meticulous candidate vetting, and so much more, all geared towards one goal — placing the very best talent as soon as possible, all while ensuring a seamless fit with your company culture, your big-picture objectives, and other factors. Plus, we have one of the highest candidate retention rates in the industry while consistently delivering world-class talent faster than the competition.
That’s how Cowen Partners has become a leading executive search firm nationwide, and it’s why our executive recruiters have a reputation for excellence and success.
We also invite you to continue exploring more executive recruiting insights from our team: