Your current customers are your best single source of new business. They know you, they know your product, they have demonstrated their willingness to purchase. What’s more, you know them, you’ve learned about their needs, and you’ve invested a significant amount of your time in the success of their business. You should work to protect that investment and encourage it to grow the same way you manage your investment portfolio, making adjustments periodically to maximize the return on your investment.
Your current customers are also your company’s most profitable customers. The heavy start-up costs have been absorbed and written off already. The current customers have passed the credit checks, had their account data fed into your computer, been educated about your billing practices, learned how to use your customer support and service staffs, and otherwise incurred the typical back-office expense necessary to start doing business with a new account.
They’ve probably also passed the most expensive stage of incurring initial selling costs. You’ve used the get-acquainted offer, the short-term trial contract, and the sales promotion expense to bring them into the company. You’ve done your basic research, invested your time in preparing the initial proposals, tracked down the decision-makers, and made all the follow-up presentations to make the first sale. Once you’ve done these things, you generally don’t have to do them again. You can skip or abbreviate at least some of these time-expensive tasks.
You can concentrate on keeping the current customer happy and increase your business with them while you go about developing other new accounts. As you’ve probably guessed by now, you have to do both tasks to build a successful account list or territory. There is no rest in sales unless you decide you’re not going to grow your business both ways. And if that’s your decision, you’ll have plenty of time to rest—in the line at the unemployment office.
Dave Donelson distills the experiences of hundreds of entrepreneurs into practical advice for business owners and managers in the Dynamic Manager's Guides and Handbooks, a series of how-to books about marketing and advertising, sales techniques, and management strategy.