Financial results for the first quarter are in process and are being reported. How are you doing—holding out okay in this economy? A lot has been written on this economy, especially as it pertains to marketing within it (see examples here and here, but one principle holds true regardless of economic condition—it’s a lot cheaper (and hence more profitable) to hold on to an existing client than it is to acquire a new one. The amount of time and effort placed into landing a new client is exponentially higher than keeping an existing client, and this become even more valuable when the existing client is interested in more of your offerings.
As marketers, especially in the B2B realm, we’re frequently tasked with seeking out new business leads (i.e. finding potentials that are interested in your product/services but are not yet clients). But under the current conditions, for the vast majority sales cycles are taking much more time, qualified opportunities are scarcer, and marketers and salespeople alike are under more pressure.
So what does all this mean? Well, maybe it’s time for marketers to elevate their involvement with existing clients. Decreased sales cycles, increased profitability, and increased potential for referrals, building the customer loyalty that can drive more sales with existing clients is well worth the investment. Marketers can easily start this with the obvious items—email marketing that provides useful information on a regular basis, social media marketing through channels like blogs ,wikis, and forums that facilitate open and honest customer interaction, and with marketing collateral that serves as a point of reference for clients when “you’re not there.”
But more importantly, marketing can work with sales to seek out customer gaps that are not being filled and fall within your area of expertise. These gaps represent opportunity for portfolio expansion, and if they fall within your core area or a complementary area thereof, there’s a good chance you already have the resources to begin providing these. Using your marketing expertise, you can package an offering that caters to this need, set a process in place for how to position and sell it, create the necessary sales tools, and train the sales team. With these few steps, you can a more lucrative avenue for sales; an avenue more beneficial than normal in this climate of extended new sales cycles. Relying on existing clients to “get you through” (now and in the future) should prove to be a quicker, more profitable sale.