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March 4, 2019

8 Ways to Leverage Existing Relationships to Grow Revenue

How many clients and potential clients do you know? Before you answer… think about it. Consider all of your current clients and prospects, all of your past clients and prospects (those old names in your CRM), everyone you’ve ever chatted with at an industry conference or networking event, people you’ve connected with on LinkedIn and so on and so on. I’ll bet if you add all of those up, it’s a pretty impressive number. Hundreds? Maybe a couple thousand? And that’s great!

So, what are you doing with all of those ‘relationships?’

Remember this, a prospective buyer will not buy from you until they get to “know you – then like you – then trust you.” The good news is that those hundreds of existing contacts already know you, probably like you and might already trust you. So, why not do something to leverage all of those relationships? Here’s how…

Proof sources. Not all connections will become clients, but many can help support your selling efforts to others by serving as a ‘proof source.’ A proof source is something that “proves you can do what you say you can do.” And nothing is more compelling to potential buyers then those things that show you have done good work for companies similar to theirs. This includes:

  1. We all love referrals, but 99% of us wait for them to come to us. Why is that? Why not reach out to current and former clients and ask for referrals from them?
  2. The same goes for references… reach out to current and past clients and ask them to serve as references.
  3. Like referrals, don’t wait for a happy client to say something nice about your good work… ask them for it. (“I appreciate the kind words, Mike… would you mind putting that in writing?”) And make sure they give you permission to use their comments in your marketing.
  4. Case studies. These are among the most powerful of proof sources, but be sure your client is OK with you sharing some of the details of your work together. If not, you’ll need to make the case study “anonymous.”

Reach out. To begin to leverage your relationships with all of these old contacts, they need to hear from you. They need to be reminded that your firm exists and can be of service to them. The two ways to do that are:

  1. Phone calls. When was the last time you talked with some of these older contacts in your CRM? Begin a habit of picking up the phone and reaching out to them. Block off an hour or two every week (same day, same time so it does become an actual habit). These calls can help you reconnect with these old contacts and maybe rekindle some sort of business relationship. At worst, it’s an opportunity to update your CRM with current information.
  2. There’s no way to call the hundreds of contacts in your CRM with any sustainable frequency, so stay top-of-mind with a monthly enewsletter. Share useful articles, make downloadable content available, etc. Your email platform will be able to tell you who clicked on what link in the email, so you can follow-up with them based on their interests.

New revenue. Your current clients already know you – like you – trust you. More important, they’re already spending money with you. And there is no better potential client than a current client. Look for opportunities to up-sell and cross-sell them… and not just as a way to increase revenue, but because they have a genuine need.

  1. Up-selling, which is defined as selling upgrades, add-ons or a larger project scope to increase the size of the sale. You might recognize this as the “would you like fries with that?” strategy. For example, a client might intend for their project to be regional in nature, when the same project at a national level would provide better results.
  2. Cross-selling, which is defined as selling additional products and services to an existing client. For example, a research buyer might use a research supplier for the qualitative portion of a project… but could also be a client for that supplier’s quantitative services.

Conclusion. Rather than focus your business development efforts on finding new prospects and clients, make ‘leveraging existing relationships’ the cornerstone of revenue growth. Working with existing clients and prospects is faster, easier and less expensive than starting cold. Good luck!

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