Hidden treasures, B2B

Why do so many Sales and Marketing Managers run away from the easiest win?

It’s been said so many times before: The fattest, fastest business opportunities are with the customers that you already have and know. And equally important, these are the very same people who may leave you and cause massive revenue losses if you ignore them too long. Furthermore, customers that appreciate  your attentive service as much as your products are bound to spread the word.

Some people claim that X percent of your future revenue growth will come from existing clients. Others emphasize that it is Y percent easier (read: faster and cheaper) to sell to somebody who already knows you. And according to studies performed by Lee Resources International: "Attracting new customers will cost your company five times more than keeping one that you have already got". Well, never mind the specific numbers, you know that it’s essentially true.

So, why?

Why do we choose to ignore our customers?

One reason is of course that we take them for granted. Or that our CEO is not fully aware of what is at stake, and push too hard for new wins. Our customers look happy enough, don’t they? They attend our events and they keep buying from us – no reason to worry. So we encourage and award our sales people for spending most of their time chasing new business; new wins that earn bonus points, gold stars on the wall and positive attention in high places.

There are at least two problems with that attitude.

Firstly, nobody likes to be ignored. So when our customer is approached by a more attentive supplier or service provider, asking about their pains and challenges, introducing alternative ways to interpret ongoing changes… Well, don’t be surprised if the other alternative road begins to look more and more exciting.

There is no smart move or novel digital solution to solve that problem. You simply need be there, asking the right questions, providing guidance and showing real interest in what they do. 

Secondly, there are a number of ways to expand your revenues from your current customer relationships.

  • Even if you are selling first-class “products”, somebody else may be offering administrative solutions, management services, distribution or production systems that will set strict limits for what you can do. To move up the value chain, and gain real influence with a higher echelon of decision-makers, you will need to define your knowledge and capabilities differently, making them more relevant for the people at the top.
  • If your customer is only buying from the lower end of your product portfolio, you may need to implement a more holistic, long-term view on overall economy, market initiative, quality assurance, risk avoidance, employee satisfaction, environmental or ethical concern, business leadership…?
  • If your customer is part of a large organization, there may be other needs and pains and challenges behind other doors. Your sales people have probably asked around already, they are not stupid, but it takes more than that to create awareness and interest in what it is you have to sell.

None of this is easily achieved by just raising the topic or knocking on more doors. You may need to get closer to the hearts and minds of the people concerned. Discretely planting new ideas, new ways of reasoning, spiced with relevant real-life examples. Inspire internal discussions and initiatives, making them see things your way without aggressive selling.

A marketing and sales strategy

One way of doing all that for your most important accounts is applying an editorial ABM strategy. A marketing and sales strategy to inspire new perspectives and new reasons-to-buy. Not as a temporary “campaign”, you can probably afford to do it continuously, throughout the year. 

In short: Don’t think that the pastures are greener elsewhere. There may be a hidden treasure in your own backyard, and there are some brand new shovels in your toolshed.

So, start digging.

Rolf Andersson
Senior Writer & Strategist at Freya News

Download: What is Account-Based Marketing?

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