As business development experts, we’re predominantly asked to support our clients in seeking out and approaching new clients. It makes sense that you have your existing team focused on the doing, and pull in dedicated resource to focus on new business opportunities. New clients are what keep a company growing, however it’s important to point out that it’s retaining clients that accelerates profitable growth.
It’s widely reported that “acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one” (Source: Harvard Business Review, 2014)
Therefore at All Star Reserves, we’ve decided to focus as much on helping you win and retain business from your existing clients as securing new business from new clients.
Remember, whilst you’re out there trying to attract new clients, there are other companies out there trying to attract yours. By staying focused on your existing customers needs, you can help prevent them being unseated by special deals or the allure of your competitors.
What’s preventing you from growing your existing accounts?
Often your view of the clients business value can be blinkered by just focusing on the work that you’re currently doing or have been asked to do. Opportunities can exist outside of that remit, outside of your current clients’ department or even within the same remit or department but that you’re just not currently aware of. Take the time to ask questions about what else your client is up to, how your project can align with the rest of the business strategy, and you may just seek out areas which become new business opportunities.
The challenge most companies have with focusing on a growth strategy with existing rather than new clients is that the responsibility is often left to the team who are working on that account to seek out new opportunities. Although they are best placed to do this, they are often too focused on doing the doing. They don’t necessarily have the time to look up and spot new opportunities in the same organisation. It tends to go to the bottom of the to do list, overtaken by things that are deemed important, urgent and comfortably familiar.
In addition to this, often the junior team who are working on the existing accounts don’t have the broad skillset or confidence to ask about and seek out new opportunities, therefore they avoid asking for new business. Or simply they’re just not even told to or trained how to!
Shiny new toy syndrome is also rife in senior management teams. Often the most senior people in the business will focus on new opportunities and new clients, leaving the junior team to manage the day to day. That not only leads to disappointment from a client’s perspective when they’ve been sold a senior team but only ever hear from the juniors. It can also make the people running existing accounts feel undervalued and therefore unmotivated to dedicate their best work, which leads to client retention issues.
So how do you resolve these problems?
We’ve brought on board a new All Star Reserve who specialises in this area. She’s worked as Client Services Director for Toucan, an independent shopper and brand activation agency, becoming Business Director at Once Upon A Time, a fully integrated agency, when it acquired Toucan in 2017. Throughout her career she’s specialised in expanding and maximising business from new and existing accounts alike and has turned her hand more recently to independant consultancy in this area. She’s helped us put together some quick tips to help you grow your existing accounts.
Our top tips for how to get more business from existing clients:
1. Do good work and remind your clients how good you are
Be a valued partner, share learnings from work you’ve done together, share insight you’ve learnt from working on your other clients, share things that will get shared on within the business therefore promoting your name and your work!
2. Maintain good connections
Make your customers’ business feel valued. At the end of the day everyone, and every business, likes having their ego stroked, or on the flip side they don’t like being made to feel less important than someone else. By all means let clients know you’re doing well and have other clients to look after, but always make sure they feel that their business is as, if not more, important than any other.
Expand your pool of contacts within the existing account. Be curious, ask to know more about the company strategy, offer to get in touch directly with other contacts within the business to find out more information. You never know if that new contact could offer you some additional business.
Ongoing communication and simple retention of customer connections will also help retain lapsed customers. Keep them up to date with other work you’re doing, particularly in areas you don’t currently service them with.
Never underestimate the value of a referral. It could be a referral from your client to another or a referral to a new business when they move on elsewhere.
3. Upskill and reward your team
Focus on business growth at all levels of the business. Train everyone in your company in new business and sales techniques and reiterate the importance of growing existing accounts.
Reward account growth as much as winning new business
4. Bring in an expert consultant!
It may not be rocket science, but implementing change throughout the business to achieve customer retention and growth requires focus that your existing team may not have the time for. This is where our consultants can help in one of two ways: in an informal mentor capacity to support, encourage and enable busy doers to look for and secure additional business, or, as a hands on impartial advisor of the existing client relationships.
The support process starts with an onboarding session, understanding your business capabilities and the current account disciplines. Our advisor can then help to eek out opportunities and be there to support your current account handlers, checking in, and ensuring they have the tools and confidence to ask for the business identified.
Acting more client facing, our consultant would conduct impartial client reviews including interviews and questionnaires with the mission of providing the best and most appropriate service possible. This is not done just to garner praise and testimonials but to really get to the bottom of what is and isn’t working, fix what isn’t and double down on what is. As we always like to reiterate: clients love to be listened to and to have their opinion valued (as long as it’s not too time consuming or an impersonal process). It will undoubtedly highlight some hard truths and hopefully some high praise, but will bring to light any reasons why you’re missing out on potential additional business.
We’d be interested to hear your thoughts and challenges in this area. Please get in touch if you want our help, we’d love to meet with you and discuss this further.
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