A Parallel Path to Client Acquisition
A while back I asked if it was time to re-think the structure of your sales and client facing teams. Maybe you’ve had some reservations about how to make the transition. If you’re like many printing company owners, you’ve got an experienced group of sales folks who’ve been selling for years and have some great accounts. They undoubtedly have been with you for years and are great people. They provide the service your clients expect and that has helped to build your company to what it is today. Your frustration though may be from the lack of intentional new business.
After years of doing the cat and mouse pursuit of new accounts, many reps are enjoying the steadiness of being the account manager for their prized accounts. Make no mistake, these accounts are valuable and there is a need to nurture them. The fact is as a business, you need both the comfort that comes from legacy accounts as well as the adrenaline rush of capturing new business.
While not a scientific study, my observations are that one or two out of ten sales reps are never satisfied and are always turning in new business – in addition to taking care of their existing accounts. I’m not picking on the other sales folks here; in fact, I often see the same relaxed behavior with managers and other leaders in organizations. There are always those who are trying to get the business to the next level while others hope the for the best.
So, let’s recap. We need both client retention and client acquisition. If you are getting your fill of both, congratulations. If not, you’ll need to pivot your efforts. Trying to change the eight out of ten reps and convert them to new business all-stars doesn’t work very well. Companies have been trying to do that for years, without much success.
When we look at other industries, we see sales teams made up of customer service reps, account managers, and business development reps. Some may even have a team that works together when an account is ready to close – the strike team. While the titles may differ, each seat has a role and responsibility and is staffed by those that can play their position. Making the transition to this type of format is the hard part. And while change is a constant in many sales organizations, most printing companies haven’t changed how they sell in years.
You goal is not to lose any of your existing accounts or staff that are desirable. One tactic is to partition the sales force into two groups. Think of creating a parallel sales effort. One group will be those who both want to and can bring in new business – create a plan, a pathway, and a comp plan for their success. You may have to add to your business development staff to fill those ranks. The other group will be those who excel at nurturing accounts and creating that world class customer experience for your existing customers. They’ll have their own path to success as well.
How each group is supported by customer service will be greatly dictated by your specific workflow procedures and the type of accounts and work you’re going after.
This post doesn’t address market strategy, marketing initiatives, or lead generation tactics. Just think client retention, and client acquisition – and build up from there. If you have ideas or comments on the subject, please include them below. Good luck and remember, doing nothing certainly is an option, just not a great one!
Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic insight and advice, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.com, LinkedIn or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike Philie leverages his 28 years of direct industry experience in sales, sales management and executive leadership to share what’s working for companies today and how to safely transform your business. Since 2007, he has been providing consulting services to privately held printing and mailing companies across North America.
Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the graphic communications industry by providing direct and realistic assessments, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion, and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach.