Growing a book of customers means more than doing your route.
By Michael Caron, President, Northbound Learning
You’ve worked hard over the years and now have a sizable client base that you’re responsible for. When you get to this stage, your time will be spent less on attracting new customers and much more on going “deeper and wider” with your existing accounts. Here’s how to make the most of your efforts.
Drill where there’s the best chance of hitting oil
The tendency of many Account Managers is to make field calls on the biggest and best customers. Often, these are also the customers we have the best relationship with. It’s likely that we consider many to even be our friends. The argument is “I’ve got to take care of them because that’s one of our biggest accounts”. I’m not suggesting that taking care of your customers doesn’t make sense but the key here is balance.
Is it possible to over service a client? Absolutely, when it comes at the expense of others that have tremendous growth potential. We’re already probably getting a big “share of wallet” with our biggest, most loyal customers and it’s questionable how much more business we can get by spending more time with them. I know the thought of calling on that account who favours our competitor and was kind of standoffish with you last time doesn’t sound appealing but that’s where your biggest gains might come from!
We recommend that you prioritize your clients using a combination of existing purchasing volume and “sales opportunity gap or SOP” — that is, the difference between their maximum potential volume and current volume. The customer who buys $10,000 annually from you but spends $100,000 on products/services in your sector has a $90,000 SOP. The client who currently spends $150,000 with you and spends $200,000 in total has an SOP of only $50,000.
To continue with our metaphor, the other oil wells have already been tapped. Let’s look for some new ones!
Plan your work, work your plan
I spend a lot of time in the field observing sales reps do their thing and in my experience, this is how many field calls go. “Hi Bob. I just thought I’d drop in see if I can do anything for you.” This is usually followed with way too much small talk and finally when they do get down to business, it might consist of something like, “What do you need?”
Your job is to uncover sales opportunities, not be an order taker, and this requires planning. Before heading out and dropping in, brainstorm on what the opportunities are. What are they buying from our competitors that they could be buying from us? How can our product help them accomplish more than our competitor’s product? Do they know about all our products? What problems, challenges or issues are they presented with these days?
When you can relate the expanded purchasing of your company’s products or services to the solving of your customer’s problems or the achievement of some goal that’s important to them, you will enjoy continued account growth.
If you’re a sales leader, Northbound Learning’s “Account and Territory Management” workshop outlines a proven system to help your team in growing their accounts. For more information or pricing, contact Michael Caron at [email protected], 416.456.1440
If you are a sales professional, join me for our free webinar, “How to Grow Your Accounts When Nobody’s Buying” on June 22nd at 12:00 pm. Click here for more information or to register.