Three techniques for growing existing client accounts and strengthening your position as a key business partner.
Google growth of existing accounts vs acquisition of new logos and you’ll find all kinds of statistics about how much cheaper it is do one rather than the other, and which is more important. Although many of the stats you’ll see come from dated research or are based on B2C examples, there’s no doubt that increasing the business you do with existing accounts makes sense for all kinds of reasons – including keeping the competition out of the picture. This is especially applicable where technology development continually drives the evolution of client-partner relationships, and new opportunities are emerging all the time.
“Eighty-five percent of B2B marketers who responded to the 2019 Gartner Account Growth Marketing Poll say there are uncapitalized growth opportunities within existing accounts.”
So why isn’t everyone focussing on account growth?
There are two fundamental reasons why companies flounder when it comes to growing client accounts. One is not understanding how to help customers, or not knowing what they need. The other is not having a strong enough relationship to understand what they need and show them you can deliver that.
These two basic problems have a wide-reaching impact, but if you can overcome them (which you can), you’ll open doors to all kinds of opportunities that will benefit your business, and – just as importantly – the customers you partner with.
Technique 1: Discovering gaps and overlaps
We all recognise that too many organisations are still working in silos, and so it’s not unusual for a sales or delivery team to be unaware of what their company is doing with the same customers elsewhere. For example, if a global tech company is providing a workplace solution in some EMEA countries, the US team may not know about it. Team India may not know what Team Australia is currently delivering, and to which customers. Even at a local level, Division B may be completely oblivious to the activities of Division A.
By identifying the gaps, you’re identifying areas where potential opportunities can be found.
Similarly, you may be working with a client in a single country. Do you know where else their business operates? Does their footprint overlap with yours? If so, you’ve just identified a potential opportunity for your organisation.
Technique 2: Identifying client needs
Here’s where it pays to use commands to elicit good information. Yes, you read that correctly. When you ditch the ‘What?’ and start with a command or direction – such as tell, explain, describe or show – you’ll generally receive a much more meaningful and revealing answer than if you had asked a question.
Tell me about your current challenges.
Explain that to me in more detail.
Describe what that might look like for your client.
Show me how the solution works.
This approach broadens the discussion and can often introduce new areas, associated topics and explanations. It also tends to surface the most important or biggest concern first, giving you valuable pointers on what’s most urgent from the client’s perspective.
Active listening techniques then help you to build a more detailed picture, enabling you to focus the conversation without interrupting the flow. This would include reactive questions such as “Tell me more about…” (something they mentioned) and confirmation questions such as “So you need x, is that right?” (something you can help with).
To broaden your reach within a client organisation you can also ask “How is what we’re doing helping? Could we help in other areas? What challenges do other teams face?”
Finally, don’t forget those all-important questions to obtain introductions to new stakeholders within the client organisation: “Who do you think I should get in touch with about that?” and “Who do I need to speak to?”
Point about fast feedback loop and intelligence collection?
Technique 3: Plot and prioritise
Once you have a complete picture of what and where the potential opportunities are, you can evaluate them to identify which would be the best to target. That starts with their potential value to you and to the client, which you can easily plot.
You’ll then need to review the other factors in play, such as ease of execution, long and short-term strategies, ethical considerations (high value to you, low value to the customer may not be the way to go!), and where your strongest areas of influence are, already identified through your relationship mapping[AY1] .
Once you’ve completed this exercise, you’re then in a position to conduct a focused stakeholder influence campaign on the high priority opportunities.
Raise your referral game
This may seem obvious, and you could say that you’re already doing all this. But if so, exactly how methodical is your approach, and how effective is it proving to be? It’s important to recognise that influence-based opportunity creation is much more than an annual or quarterly account review or occasional heads-together-round-a-table to pool ideas and share some leads. What is it then? referral is not right language for this segment
The reality is that most companies aren’t employing these three techniques in an effective manner, and are without a strategy or disciplines in place for proactively identifying client opportunities. This is largely because of a need for focus, methodology and consistent application – all of which can be difficult to introduce and embed into your business without experienced support.
Being challenged externally adds discipline and significant value to the discovery process. Invite us to come and help you work it through, and you’ll generate a measurable return on your investment as well as embedding good business practice into your organisation.
Grow client relationships for the longer term
Naturally, influence campaigns are the ideal way to convert potential opportunities into additional business. As well as generating extra value and revenue for you and your clients, extending your delivery into new areas helps you to strengthen your relationships and elevate them into true partnerships. This also has the advantage of shifting away from individual ownership and evolving into a mutually beneficial business to business partnership.
Find out more about using influence to grow your business
Applied Influence Group can help you with identifying new opportunities, extending your current client relationships into new areas and running successful stakeholder influence campaigns. To find out more about what we can do for you and your business, please get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org.