As I’m talking with networking contacts, friends, and companies during my search for the next step I am noticing something. In some cases it is overtly stated and in other cases you need to read between the lines. It seems that many industries and companies are realizing that it is more cost-effective and more profitable to keep instead of get.
Grow your book THEN add to it.
Let’s get this out of the way: I am NOT saying that companies are not in search of new business, adding clients, etc. I AM saying that I notice a shift. When the economy was doing better it seemed that the focus was primarily on adding clients, accounts, customers – however each industry measured their book of business. Now that times have been tough for a while it seems that the focus is primarily on growing the relationship with those clients you have and THEN on adding new business to the book.
Examples of Keep vs Get:
- Has your bank started calling you? The calls I get are short and sweet. The manager is trying to see how happy I am with their service and he is offering me other lines of business. How do I know? He’s up front about it: “Are you pleased with the level of service you’re receiving here?” When I answer that I am: “I’m glad to hear that. I notice you have two children, have you considered any sort of college savings plan?” During our brief dialogue he tosses out another couple services he may be able to provide and closes by thanking me again for my current business.
- In my previous capacity with Staples Advantage I noticed a dramatically reduced sales cycle (and increased sales dollars) by offering my current customers new lines of business. I found it much easier to generate a furniture sale by researching a good deal on a great chair then calling my current customers to check in and offering it to them. Even if there was no need for the product, the seed had been planted that next time they needed office furniture I should be their phone call.
- Next time you get your oil changed what is a big part of the transaction? A conversation about all the other stuff you need to get done. Yes, this is also plain and simple up-selling. At the same time, if they go from being your oil change guy to being your car repair and maintenance guy…big win for them. They already have your oil change business and now they get your tires, brakes, etc all for simply asking a question or two.
So what? Test this for yourself and use it to your advantage. If you’re in sales try offering other lines of business to your current customers. No matter what business you are in try heaping fantastic customer service on your existing book of business and see if it brings you more. This is also a fantastic time to be asking for referrals. In some ways that is the perfect combination: getting more from existing clients AND adding a new one.
Feel like none of this applies to you? Are you a “consumer”? Do you buy anything or use any services? Use that. Take your needs to your current suppliers and see how good a deal you can get. Ignore the advertising, just go in and have a face to face conversation. Walking in to any establishment and offering them more of your business should always be an easy conversation. If by some chance it’s not…especially during these times in our economy…you’re doing business with the wrong people.