Most companies work very hard to identify new prospects and convert them into new customers, and that is necessary to continue to grow. But it is far from the only way to grow and often times it is not the easiest way to grow. It may not even be the way to find the best opportunities.
It reminds me of a story Mark Twain told about a man who stumbled out of a bar and lost his keys. He was on his knees under a streetlamp when a policeman approached and asked what he was doing. He replied, “Looking for my keys.” The policeman asked where he had lost them and pointing he said, “Over there in that alley.” When the officer asked why he was looking for them here, he replied, “Because this is where the light is.”
Many of our best opportunities exist within our customer base. Consider these challenges…
1. Do you treat each customer like they are your only customer? While all customers are not created equally, all customers that you want to keep should be receiving your best stuff. If they are not, there exists opportunities to provide them more value and grow your revenue.
2. Are you providing your customers with solutions to meet their needs, or are you focused on selling them what you have to sell? This is one of the biggest mistakes we can make. If you think you can “trick” customers into buying what you want to sell them, it’s going to be a long haul. On the other hand, helping your customers to succeed is a value proposition that sells.
3. Are you listening to your customers to find opportunities? When we get into the mode of “I know what they want,” your relationship is destined to be short-lived. A partnering relationship is based more on the “How can I help you with that?” mode. If you have a customer listening or voice of the customer program in place, it should be designed to help you identify opportunities as well as issues.
Especially in these challenging economic times, focusing on your existing customers is a terrific way to grow your business and build lasting relationships.