I've spent a lot of time over the last couple of years trying to find ways to generate more revenue from existing clients; mostly by building and marketing new products that leverage our base product to solve top-of-mind client problems. This is a smart way to grow your business because you're marketing to an audience that already knows, trusts and likes you, your product and your company. In most cases, this puts you at a huge advantage over competition that doesn't have an existing relationship.
I've learned a few valuable lessons during this time about getting more from your current customers.
- Clients have a strong perception of who you are and what your capabilities are. They actually pre-judge you more than they do a new provider. It can be really hard to get out of this box. The best ways that I've found to deal with this are:
- Be super honest and upfront about what your limitations are with respect to added offerings. If you talk too big you'll lose trust.
- Your clients know that you can do something well; if they didn't, they wouldn't be working with you. Clearly identify that thing and find a way to make this capability a part of what you're upselling. But make the story simple and make it make sense to the group that you're working with; i.e. a lab supply company can sell its logistics expertise to help clients manage lab inventory but it shouldn't start selling office supplies to the office manager.
- Don't be afraid to test your pitch with some smaller clients; your first several passes will always be off the mark. But balance this with not taking the feedback from a couple of clients too seriously. If you think you're solving a real problem then stay on course for a while.
- You have to be ultra sensitive of not appearing to "salesy." You've got a certain level of trust and a willingness to listen built up among existing clients. Don't damage that, it'll be hard to get back and it's not worth losing.
- Because most deals can get done with a statement of work or an amendment to an existing contract, the sales cycles are much shorter than those with new clients. Leverage this to keep deals really simple and moving fast. In some cases you can simply invoice the added product or service without a signature which can avoid the involvement of busy lawyers and senior managers.