There may be less work out there right now than there was but there is still work to be won. Many businesses that are struggling to find enough sales or their sales have plateaued do not realise that in their constant search for new clients they have been missing out on opportunities that they would stand a much better chance of winning.

People tend to do business with people they know like and trust. The bigger the budget the more trust becomes the primary issue and the big ‘trusted’ brands have an advantage. There used to be a saying ‘You never got sacked for buying IBM’. What they mean is that you never got sacked by buying the tried and tested solution. The great thing is that the more you work with a client, the more they get to know, like you, and most importantly…..trust you!

Its always far easier and requires less selling skill to develop an account than it does to win a new one against stiff competition. If you have been in business a while, the chances are that you are sitting on a gold mine and did not even realise it! With a little focused effort you could easily increase your sales both in the short term and longer term by treviewing your past and previous clients. This is one of the first places I look in helping a business achieve a sales breakthrough.

Your existing clients are more likely to take your calls and more likely to agree to meet with you to discuss their issues. From these discussions opportunities will arise and eventually your client will call you to discuss any planned expenditure. Its really cool when that happens as you know there is virtually no competition – even if there is a tendering process.

Even where a business has formal account management is in place, they normally still exists a big untapped potential to increase sales. This is because account managers are often too busy managing the day-to-day activities and are merely responding to client requests rather than proactively creating opportunities.

Proactive account development does not happen by accident. It takes planning and it requires deciding which accounts to develop and the style in which an account should be managed. Some accounts that are currently getting the most attention may be large in sales terms and yet have limited potential for sales growth. At the same time, other accounts with fairly low existing sales but huge potential are being overlooked.

Some smaller businesses do not have any formal client contact strategy in place. They assume their clients will call if they need something. Some do but many end up going elsewhere. Taking a proactive approach to managing your client relationships can make a big difference to short term lead generation and sales growth.

In these more challenging times you could be missing a trick if you fail to maximise the sales potential of your existing client base. Proactive account development will also put you in a stronger position once the spending starts again. Finally, existing clients can be a rich source of referrals for new clients. Why not review the untapped sales potential of your existing clients and create an account development strategy?

Recommended action:
Prepare a magic matrix to immediately identify opportunities to cross-sell and up-sell.

Review your existing client base by potential. Set up some criteria for an ideal client and then score all your clients.

Conduct an account plan for the accounts with the biggest potential and then execute the plan.