Thursday, October 23, 2008

You Must Leverage Your Current Business Relationships for Sales Growth

There are lots of great salespeople out there who can build a great business relationship from scratch. When I say "scratch", I literally mean starting from a cold call and working your way up to being a trusted business advisor or favorite salesperson with a customer. This is still, without a doubt, the hardest way to grow new account sales for even the most experienced salesperson.

When you are new to sales with no clients or customers to speak of, this is the primary (or the only) method you will use to garner new business. When you start becoming successful, however, the drive to go through this process over and over will diminish. Let's face it, when you become highly successful in getting a great deal of customers to turn to you for business advice in your area of expertise, it is darn hard to go back to being a "hungry" cold caller who gets no respect with prospects.

But at the same time, all of us in sales have to continue the process of opening new doors to grow sales. This aspect of sales can never be forgotten and always needs production. How can we do this if we don't have the drive to make the cold calls we did in the beginning?

This is where leveraging your current relationships comes into play. And by the way, the method of leveraging relationships to become successful applies to all areas of life and not just sales. No man or woman becomes a CEO, business owner, or even President of the United States without using their existing relationships to create new ones. Becoming successful in life can all boil down to the relationships you have, both business and personal (or a combination of the two).

We usually have two distinct choices in sales to grow new business - either we cold call or get qualified referrals from existing customers. It is really that simple. I can't tell you the number of salespeople who never even try to use some of their best customers to get them in new doors. If you are successful and don't like cold calling, you must implement the "leverage" strategy or your numbers will tank in the future. If you can't or won't do this, then get back to cold calling.

I'll publish more articles in the future on how to properly use leverage with your existing customers to gain new business with qualified referrals.


4 comments:

Sue Murray said...

I totally agree with your thoughts on how we must leverage existing relationships. I am currently in the process of creating a playbook within our company on how we will develop and execute on our "Expansion Opportunities". In these very difficult economic times, it has become critical to maximize the relationships and trust/loyalty we have built with our customers. The 'art' to building out our Playbook for how we will manage our Sales Expansion Activities has an interesting twist however. Our challenge will be in coodinating all the existing expansion activities across the organization. Everyone is executing expansion activities to the best that they can, but it needs to be easily centralized with the customer at the center so that the messaging is timely, consistent and relevant. So, it's a 'good problem' in that everyone has the best intentions and their energies in the right spot. It's going to be a matter of getting the process coordinated and setup in a playbook, along with using our CRM system to be our expansion system of record!

From the Author: Will Fultz said...

Sue,

Thanks for your comments.

I agree that having a centralized message to your customers and prospects that is coordinated from the top down can be highly successful. However, it is still hard to compete with salesperson relationship built on face to face activity.

Thanks again,

Will Fultz

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Anonymous said...

Dear Will,
I am totally new to your blogs and in sales as I have been a 'core' technical person for many years and planning to move to sales.I would definitely agree with the two points you mentioned about the importance of getting customer referrals and the importance of cold calls but is it really true that once a salesperson becomes succesful and build a good portfolio, he/she will move away from cold calling?From what i have seen and known, i strongly believe that cold calling is by far the core essence of sales process and normally in today's scenario where there is less shortage of resources with competent skills a succesful salesperson who has already moved up the ladder in his career would definitely delegate the process of cold calling to someone else.
If the sales process do not take full advantage of cold calling and would purely depend on referrals from the customers then there is a chance of not getting diverse customers based on different geographies and platforms.

Regards,
Raaz