In San Antonio this past November, I had the privilege of meeting and spending time with many of our partners from around the globe. It was great exchanging ideas and learning from each other during our Resonance 2018 event. During one of our breakout sessions, I presented the following ideas and techniques for growing your business, and at the same time, protect your blind spots from predators (AKA – competitors.) Here is what we reviewed that day.
Growing and Protecting Your Client Base
Whether your organization offers products and solutions through a partner or distributor community, or if you sell directly to end-user clients, the most important and critical area of your organization is your client base – partner clients or direct end-user clients – are your dominant source of value, and your dominant source of risk.
When thinking of both growing and protecting your client base, you should approach your activities with two different plans. Remember, the only two things you have the highest area of influence in are your own behaviors and activities.
Protecting your base
A simple fact to consider is that every client you have is your competitor’s best prospect. So, if you are not maintaining consistent contact, you are leaving the door open for your competitor to get a toehold. You need to be careful doing this though, as you do not want to “pester” the accounts. The best approach is a balanced one. Try to make your regular contacts both “high touch” (meaning, call often) and “high value” (meaning, have something useful to say).
The most effective, and personal, contact method is through regular visits (this only works if you are local, of course). Some great activities for these visits could include executing Quarterly Business Reviews, or just simple “drop-ins” to build better rapport with partner employees and provide them insights into their industry – which will require you to research benchmarks and best practices.
Remember to track all of your contacting activities in your CRM, (“If it’s not in Salesforce, it didn’t happen” has been my motto.) By doing this simple but necessary task, you will have information for your QBR’s (Quarterly Business Reviews), plus you won’t forget to call your client by letting them slip through the cracks. Each time you track your activities, you should schedule the next one. When scheduling follow-up calls, you should also make the touches (emails, calls, visits) at random intervals (not always 90 days out).
Finally, another idea would be to schedule internal “Open Houses” at your client’s office to share your solutions with different business units, all while your key contact brags to other departments about what your company has helped them accomplish.
No matter how you decide to proceed with your contacting though, make sure you schedule that next call, since the biggest lie you will tell yourself is “I’ll remember.”
Growing your base
Now it’s time to increase the number of clients you work with, to expand your base. There are some basic steps that we all take, such as responding to RFP’s or making cold calls. Those can help, but you should also consider the following:
- Ask your current clients for a referral. Many people are proud of the solution you built, let them take some ownership and share that with other companies. Maybe their vendors, or clients, or just friends and family may be in similar businesses and need your offerings.
- If you are offering a solution that may reduce labor for an organization, by helping organizations “do more with less,” you should look for companies looking to hire someone in that department. A great example would be looking at a job website (Indeed, for example) for companies hiring in Accounts Payable for processing vendor invoices.
- Social media options – LinkedIn is likely the best for commercial business to business contacts. Sharing your successes can be a good thing. LinkedIn can let you brag to the world on all the good things you do, but be sure you keep it brief and to the point. Also, make sure you either get permission from your client to use the story, or sanitize the post not to include the company name – such as, “Our organization just completed a project in the AP department with a client that saved them one million dollars.” In thinking of your network, by the way, how many connections are too many connections? Are you receiving real value from that network, or is it just made up of individuals you “met that one time?” Have no regrets with the answer. Trimming the network is not a bad thing; it works in gardening.
Some other ideas worth considering, for both your existing clientele and your prospects, include:
- Regularly scheduled webinars that are brief and usually held around lunch time. You can ask your clients to bring their lunch, spend a maximum of 20 minutes with you and share some new ideas on how they can leverage your services and offerings. This is actually a sales call, but it should not feel like a sales call.
- Case studies or testimonials of what your organization has done. If you don’t have any, get writing! You can also leverage case studies from your vendors – just don’t take credit for something you didn’t deliver. Simply state that you and your team (which includes the vendor) have provided solutions like these. You can see PSIGEN’s case studies here.
- Lastly, always, always, always (did I mention always) make sure you deliver what you promise, and when you can’t – make sure you own up to it. People like to do business with people, but only those with integrity.
When you work with PSIGEN Software, your experience should mimic these ideas. We practice what we preach, and always put our distributors, partners and client’s needs in front of our own.
I hope these ideas help you maintain that base and grow your business to new levels. If you would like to discuss more ideas of how to grow your company, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.