Recruiting for new business should begin with the customers we already have.

By Joe Truncale
In May 27, 2012

After years of careful study and thorough analysis, I’ve come to the conclusion that the business development process in many industry organizations is in dire need of help.  In fact, the uncomfortable secret in a number of firms is that there is really not much being done to plan for business growth. Every company needs to add new names to the customer roster and on a regular basis, but, for now, let’s take a look at the customers we already have and see what opportunities for growth we can find with them.

You probably have a number of key accounts.  If yours is like many industry firms, an account becomes “key” based on sales volume.  You may also include value added, profitability, or even tenure (how long they have been a customer) to the mix.  None of these is wrong, however, but the list is incomplete.

Key accounts are key based upon the extent to which they depend on you to accomplish their objectives.  How indispensable are you to their success?  What would happen to them if you no longer provided what you are providing now.  If the answer is that they would simply take their business to another provider, I submit they are not a key account.  Key accounts are key only if you are key to them!

We all have customer relationships that are stronger than others.  Well, as it turns out, these best relationships are a prime source for additional business, but it won’t just happen.  You have to make it happen, and we have just the process to take you there.

We begin by listing your Top 20 accounts (or fewer if you prefer).  We create a simple grid listing your best relationships down the side of the page and all of your products and capabilities across the top.  We then go relationship-by-relationship and ask what are they buying from us?  What are they not buying?  What percentage of their total spend are we getting in each category?  If we don’t know, can we find out (or at least estimate).

If the relationship is strong, and we have every reason to believe there is a need for additional services we can provide (or more of what we are now providing), all that is left is to identify these “gaps”, assign a goal, and a plan to reach these customers with a new message.  Here’s an insight:  Don’t be surprised to discover that your customers (yes, even your best relationships) didn’t know you provided some of the very services you have been offering for years (this happens!).

This process is the first step in NAPL’s Key Account Accelerator™ system.  More next time.

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