Radically Increase Sales Penetration with CRM
There’s a good reason B2B marketers tend to be obsessed with lead generation. It’s a metric that likely affects their compensation. But has this focus on lead generation led marketers to lose sight of the ultimate goal — increased sales?
It turns out that generating leads is not the only way for marketing to support sales. Growing business within an account may be a more important objective than keeping a laser focus on the endless cycle of lead generation. After all, customer acquisition costs six to seven times more than customer retention. Maybe marketers should concentrate on what’s in their fold rather than always trying to corral new customers.
And that’s what a sales penetration strategy is all about.
The objective to increase sales within an existing account is ideal when companies are selling to mid-sized to Fortune 500 companies. That’s because your initial sale is likely a mere fraction of the opportunity at an account. Think about it. The largest companies have revenues greater than the GDP of some nations. Each company is a micro-market. And you already have a foot in the door.
On the other hand, lead generation strategies aim to increase overall market penetration, building up the number of customers within a market. But, by definition, you always start as an outsider trying to get in. And that can be both time consuming and costly.
By aiming to expand your footprint within existing customers, you can decrease the cost of leads while boosting your likelihood of success and customer retention. As you grow your reach within an account and learn how best to work with them, you’ll become a trusted partner. Company associates will naturally turn to you when they need the products, services or solutions your business provides.
The Sales Penetration Snowball
Getting a snowball started to form the snowman’s head is the hardest part. You have to find the right snow — not too fluffy, not too mushy. Then, you have to pack it together until it’s large enough to roll it along in the snow where it practically makes itself.
It’s the same with building an account. The hardest part is that first sale. Once you have that, keep the ball rolling by using the following techniques:
Make Your Customers Smile
Create brand advocates within the account. Delight the clients who opened the door to you. Make them raving fans. Exceed their expectations and solidify your position.
Don’t try to add to your sales until you’ve built your foundation.
Service your customers to the best of your capabilities and, although it may sometimes be scary, ask for feedback. What you don’t know can hurt you. If you discover your customers have concerns, you can address them and become more entrenched in the account.
Fish During Follow-Ups
Your follow-ups can serve more than one purpose. You’ll learn what you can do to boost customer satisfaction, and have the opportunity to fish a little. A customer may say his or her life is oh-so-much easier because of your solution. If so, ask if there is anyone else in the organization who might benefit from it.
Promote Your Products
It’s likely that you sell more than one product, service or solution. It’s dangerous, however, to assume your customers know the range of your offering. It’s your job to inform them on how else you can help.
You can put this educational program on auto-pilot with an email nurturing campaign courtesy of your CRM system. Don’t make the emails sales pitches. Offer helpful tips and insights while gently informing about your services.
If you want something, don’t just hope for it. Ask. In your emails, remind customers to share the information with colleagues who might find it helpful.
Large enterprises often have approved vendor lists. Ask your client to introduce you to the procurement team. Find out what you need to do to get your company on the list. Some procurement teams will ask for discounts or added services for the privilege. These concessions, however, are often worthwhile. Once you’re on the list, it’s easier to expand your tentacles within the organization.
Offer rewards to customers for sharing your marketing materials — free cups of coffee, tickets to conferences, extra services and more. Use your CRM system to track activities and monitor results.
Keep Up on the News
To find out when opportunities are breaking, monitor the news for changes within your key accounts.
Record Express, LLC, a record retrieval and document management company, has implemented this strategy successfully. Many of their customers are law firms with more than 500 lawyers. Usually, however, just a handful of lawyers use Records Express’s services for a particular case. When this happens, Record Express associates know they have the potential to expand their business to hundreds of other lawyers within the firm.
To increase sales penetration, they keep their ears to the ground, monitoring news services to identify when firms land cases that will require them to handle a large number of documents. Says Mark Shawver, “We manage customer relationships in Claritysoft, so I can quickly identify who we’ve worked with in the firm that is taking on the document-laden case.”
“Once I’ve identified a past customer, I ask for an introduction to the lawyers heading up the case. The result is that the prospects usually end up receiving recommendations from their associates.”
And doesn’t that sound easier than cold calling? Warm, receptive prospects know your company has done good work in the past for trusted sources — their own colleagues.