Connects Marketing Group

Stop Prospecting and Start Cultivating: Existing Customers are the Key to Increased Sales

How much of your time (and budget) is spent trying to attract, engage and convert new customers? If you are like most B2B marketers (insert percentage here), the answer is probably somewhere around the area of most, if not all.

After all, that’s the true essence of marketing, right? Growing your brand, and therefore your customer base?

Here’s the American Marketing Association’s official definition:

“Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

What a lot of marketers, and salespeople, forget, though, is that marketing doesn’t, or shouldn’t, stop just because you landed the big account. Or, even more egregiously, because “XYZ Company has been a top customer for years!” Oftentimes, it is within these big guys (I like to think of them as whales!), these mature accounts, where you can most quickly increase your sales.

I love Paul Brown’s recent post about this very topic on Forbes.com. In it, he gives three of the top reasons that your existing customers shouldn’t be taken for granted:

1. If you gain a customer through your marketing efforts but lose one you already had because you weren’t paying enough attention to her, you end up with the same number of customers—but lower margins–because it costs far more to gain a new customer than to keep an existing one.

So, staying even—by adding one customer to offset every one who goes away—is actually causing you to lose ground (in the form of decreased profits that come about through increased marketing costs). That is no way to run a business.

2. Conversely, there are times when, by remaining in place, you actually gain ground. Let’s use a straightforward example:

Let’s say you have 14% of a $100 million market. Your sales: $14 million.  (Add a bunch of zeroes if you think the example is too simplistic; divide by 10 if you the example is too big.)

Now assume two additional competitors enter the field, increasing the size of the total market to $110 million.

If you can just keep your market share at 14 percent, your sales will climb to $15.4 million. Even better, since your share has remained the same, it means some of your competitors will have lost ground to the new entrants, i.e. their market share will have declined while yours increased.

3. It is far easier to sell products and services to existing customers than to someone you don’t have a relationship with.

If you have done a good job taking care of your customer in the past, and your products have performed well for them, they are usually willing to give any addition to your product line a try.  Because the relationship is in place, far less (expensive) selling is required.

I’ve posted about this topic before, but at Connects it is one of our core competencies. We can take your top accounts and cultivate business that you never even knew was there.

Account Mapping

Account Mapping is a powerful tool and often gives our clients the greatest ROI. We unearth as many points of contact in one company as possible, piecing together their organization and almost always uncovering potential business of which our clients had no previous knowledge. Connects will work with your sales team to ensure consistent messaging and a powerful strategy for:

Account Mapping, along with the customer satisfaction element, give the most significant ROI. Known customers are already set up in all of your business systems. You know all of their purchasing and shipping preferences, etc., so every new piece of business is incrementally profitable.

It’s in conversations with these customers that you are likely to get your most valuable information.  For example, Customer X will say, “I spend 50 percent of my dollar with you. I’d spend 100% with you if you improved X.”

If you make the improvements that these customers note in your general business activities, it’s going to help in all of your accounts.

Account Mapping gives you the full lay of the land of your existing accounts. There is an extensive amount of research that goes into these projects, but there is also a wealth of information that is harvested through quality conversation and active listening.

One of our clients decided to have us map one of its established, top tier customers. The customer, a large aerospace component manufacturer, had a dedicated sales manager who was responsible only for this customer’s account.

During the account mapping project with Connects, it was discovered that this customer had a whole sub-division, on the same campus, which our client had never even heard of before.

Our client was able to break into this sub-division, made easier by existing vendor approvals and a proven track record with other parts of the customer’s organization, and gain substantial new business.

The bottom line: Your existing customers are  your biggest assets.