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August 27, 2019

Former Clients: A New Path to Growth?

In a meeting, recently, with a couple of leaders from our industry, we fell into a discussion about the state of “sales” in our industry. During our chat, one of them mentioned that a new sales rep at his firm – someone from outside of the industry, interestingly – managed to put several hundred thousand dollars of potential new business into her pipeline in just her first few months of employment!

I was blown away! That is absolutely unheard of. To reach level of success… that quickly… especially by an industry outsider. What was her secret?

Her strategy was pretty simple, actually. The new sales rep – with the knowledge of her sales manager and the other sales reps at the firm – targeted old clients in the firm’s database… companies they used to do business with, but for some reason, those relationships had dried up.

Odd, isn’t it, that the existing sales reps were OK with this? I guess they were all more interested in the “shiny new pennies”… thinking these old clients were just spent resources. They couldn’t have been more wrong.

The strategy of targeting former clients is a really solid one… for a number of reasons:

  • They have already gone through the process of getting to “know you/like you/trust you” – something that must happen before a company ever buys from you.
  • They have already had the chance to experience your good work and your good service. You are a known quantity. Doing business with you – unlike with a new supplier – is not taking a chance.
  • They have already spent money with you. The buyer-seller mindset and process are established.

How did the former clients become former clients? Doubtful it was bad work. Perhaps, it was because this firm got busy and forgot to stay in touch. Or they got arrogant – assuming their good work was enough to keep bringing the client back. Most often, it’s because the firm gets lazy between projects and fails to communicate and stay top-of-mind… so a competitor swoops in and assumes that position.

In addition, the messaging from the new sales rep was also really smart and to-the-point. She reached out to these former clients and simply said, “A lot has changed since the last time we worked together… do you have a few minutes to chat? I’d like to share with you what we’ve been up to lately.” That’s it! Her results speak for themselves.

What have you got to lose?

Take a look at your CRM or sales database. If you’ve been in business for even a few years, I’ll bet your list of former clients (and even former prospects) is pretty long. Why not reach out to them and try to rekindle some sort of relationship? The worst thing that can happen is that they say “no,” which leaves you no worse off than you are right now.

Good luck and good selling.

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