New business from existing business is smart business

Grow Existing Business

Grow Existing Business

You’ve decided the best approach is to ask your sales reps to grow the business in their existing accounts.  You have called a meeting with the sales reps to share best practices for generating new business from existing accounts.

Six ideas that you could pass along are:

  • Look at the current situation through the lens of your last sale. From time to time when you are engaged with a customer look back and think about the situation that preceded your sale. What was the impetus for the opportunity? What did you observe? What situations were present? Who did what just preceding the opportunity?

New opportunities are a response to something. Was the last opportunity consistent with what you understand to be the customer’s plan, or did it appear to be a reaction? What things were in motion before the opportunity occurred? With these insights, sales reps can look for new opportunities.

  • Assess organizational changes for clues. Another set of signals that an opportunity may be in the offering is changes in the organization. Whether a company is preparing to implement a planned strategy, merging with another group or responding to a problem, very often personnel are tasked before the opportunity is visible to the outside world. Teams of required skills are assembled and units are disbanded or reduced.

Look at new and expanded organizations and what kinds of skills, and in what quantity, are being added. If you have been working with the organization it is important to leverage the sales team’s knowledge of the customer. They can provide insight to what specific changes may mean and not mean. This can help you determine what kinds of opportunities may be coming down the road.

  • Observe what is happening in overall ongoing expense management and related capital budgeting. Implementing new ideas and acquiring new capabilities cost money. Even when they are budgeted they have to be funded. Is the customer experiencing any changes in spending patterns you can identify? Are expenses being restricted or expanded?

Large opportunities are rarely standalone and companion efforts may have very different schedules and critical paths. Look for opportunities that may signal other opportunities.

  • Remember it’s a network. In major accounts, many players are involved in the decision. A few are key decision makers; others are influencers. Still others are gatekeepers who can’t say yes, but can say no. You have to know who is playing which role, the relationship between the players, and what they think about you and your competition. An average sales performer has a general understanding. A top sales performer has a comprehensive understanding.
  • Don’t forget to tell your story. In case you spot an opportunity be able to subtly, but clearly reinforce just what it is you do that is of value to customers. Customers don’t spend much or any time pondering what you do. They worry about what they need and when they do only the organizations that are top of mind, come to mind.

More often than you wish, customers will even forget all of what your company does. If that happens, you simply won’t be considered. Too often, if you don’t share the range of things you do well periodically, a customer might say, “Oh, I wish I had known you can do X, because you did such a great job on Y and, had we known, we would have used you.” Always have an up-to-date value proposition about your core capabilities and a new story about how those capabilities have been used by others.

  • Bring in fresh thinking. Think about leveraging literature, speeches, research, stories you’ve heard that relate to the customer’s agenda or you know are of particular interest to the individual. Even if they don’t produce a lead today it builds relationships and often creates leads in the future.

Most companies would be better off if they spent more time thinking and acting strategically about how to grow their business in existing accounts.

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©2017  Sales Momentum® LLC

About Richard Ruff

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. During his career Dick has authored numerous articles related to sales effectiveness and co-authored "Managing Major Sales", a book about sales management, "Parlez-Vous Business" which helps sales people integrate the language of business into the sales process, and "Getting Partnering Right" – a research based work on the best practices for forming strategic selling alliances. Dr. Ruff received his Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology from the University of Tennessee and a B.S. from Rennsselaer Polytechnic Institute.
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3 Responses to New business from existing business is smart business

  1. Greg Woodley says:

    Current clients are often the best source of sales growth. Your points are good.
    In my B2B selling days I always made it a point to look after existing customers first … worked for me … my largest account started off buying 1 product at $80,000 per year and after 10 years was buying 18 products at $2.2 million a year (and that was back in the 1990s)

  2. This is a great idea, Richard. When you look into different aspects of your business and you see what’s working best, you can either maximize on that strength or invest on that as a different business altogether. But I think companies should not rely solely on that method in creating a new business because they might miss out other opportunities. What do you think?

  3. Richard Ruff says:


    Totally agree. It is the sales manager’s job to help the reps for achieving the right balance which is not so easy. Thanks for reading.


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