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How to squeeze more sales out of existing customers

By Bridget

customers are extremely valuable and not always easy to come by in today’s
business environment. The last thing an electrical distributor wants to do is
isolate one of them by coming off as too pushy or persistent, yet many wind up
leaving significant dollars on the table by not working harder to sell
more to those loyal customers.

Related: 5 tips for selling success 

“It’s always
easier to keep an existing customer than to go out and find a new one,” says
John Brubaker, a performance consultant based in Portland, Maine, and author of The Coach Approach. “Distributors
are in a relationship-based business, so there are ongoing opportunities to
cross-sell and upsell with the same accounts that buy from them on a regular

Such efforts
are especially attractive for sales reps who don’t have to spend time and
effort on cold calls and initial meetings. “These are all warm referrals,”
Brubaker adds, “that are fairly easy to approach and manage.”

Schultz, president of Boston-based sales consultancy RAIN Group and author of Rainmaking
, concurs, and says that distributors that want to grow their
bottom lines should look first at their existing customer bases. “A lot of
companies completely miss the boat on this opportunity,” Schultz says, “even
though its standing right in front of them.” 

the Job Done

salespeople who aren’t already leveraging their existing customer bases to the
fullest, Brubaker says a blank sheet of graphing paper or an Excel spreadsheet
is a good starting point. List your customers down the left side of the paper
and your company’s products and services across the top. Check off what your
current customers are procuring from your firm and then look carefully at the
blank spaces.

“If you have
seven key product categories, look closely at how many of your best clients are
buying all seven – and which ones could be purchasing all seven,” says
Brubaker. “This simple exercise will reveal exactly where you should be
focusing your efforts.”

You can also
use the matrix to label customers with an A, B, or C rating, with A clients
representing “great” selling opportunities and C clients as “minimal.” Turn to
your past selling experiences with the individual clients to come up with the
ratings, which will help your distributorship focus only on the areas where it
has the best shot of expanding its repertoire, says Brubaker. “Put a value on
your time and understand that a C customer shouldn’t get as much of your money,
time, and effort as an A-lister.”

Give Away
Something of Value

Once you’ve
identified the top candidates for upsells, cross-sells, and new products, it’s
time to reach out and offer them a free electrical audit or other valuable
service that will raise your distributorship’s profile for that particular

“Present a
free audit of the clients’ resources to help determine where and how you can
save them money and time,” Brubaker says, “as well as make their businesses
more efficient.” Areas such as lighting, video, voice, data, and new green
initiatives, for example, open the door for opportunities to cross-sell current
clients on new services that your company has to offer.

Here’s some
simple dialogue distributors can use to set up an appointment for the audit:

“I’m calling you today Mr. Jones
to set up a complimentary electrical audit. We recently completed one for Mr.
Smith at ABC corporation, who is also in your industry, and we were able to
save his business X amount per month and make the operation more green and efficient
in the process. What day works best for you this week?”

By showing
clients that you have their best interest at heart, Brubaker says you can move
away from being just a “salesman” and into the role of trusted advisor – the
holy grail in an industry where relationships still matter. “The customer will
understand that you are not trying to simply upsell him to make more money,”
says Brubaker, “and that you are genuinely trying to help.”

McCrea is a Florida-based writer who covers business, industrial, and
educational topics for a variety of magazines and journals. You can reach her
at bridgetmc@earthlink.net or
visit her website at www.expertghostwriter.net.

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