There are two basic types of revenue streams for any contractor: new sales with new customers and recurring sales with existing customers. New business is exciting, and it’s easy to see how it contributes to the bottom line. But this kind of additional income requires intensive prospecting, experienced sales teams, customized proposals, competitive bidding, and more. Conversely, incremental sales from existing customers, or recurring revenue, rarely require the large chunks of time and money commitments associated with new business. That’s why so many construction pros know that increasing sales with existing customers is a profitable way to grow.
However, securing additional sales from your current clientele isn’t always easy. Even in the best commercial relationships, challenges can arise. Objections can occur when negotiating contracts, discussing price, or scoping service. Sometimes you must manage performance-related issues. But it’s worth your time to work through these kinds of obstacles. After all, finding better ways to build a close working relationship with your best clients is a great way to build trust and increase respect. In fact, increasing your share of work on any given project can become one of the most profitable ways to build your construction business.
Strive for Position and Influence
Every successful business has a long list of customers, and many also have a shorter list of high-value clients. High-value customers are loyal and dependable. And because they provide recurring revenue, they are often more profitable. That’s because your best customers value your company. They like the way you do business, so they return again and again. When this happens, you have gained position and influence among these customers. You probably do that in many ways, which is vital for establishing repeat business.
Keys to increasing position and influence should include:
- Truly understanding needs and expectations
- Clearly communicating your value proposition
- Exemplary customer engagement and collaboration
- Following methodical account planning and review processes
- Well-trained and focused sales representatives
- Consistent measurement and reporting
Build Your Relationship
Before reaching out to clients, start by evaluating Return on Investment (ROI) by measuring risk vs. reward. What will you need to do to get more business from your customers, and what monetary return will your efforts potentially provide? Is increasing business a long shot or a sure thing?
When evaluating potential ROI, it’s helpful to estimate the total business opportunity/potential with a customer and compare it to your current share of business. For example, are you working with a big customer who gives you 5% of their business? If so, potential sales may represent millions of dollars in additional revenue, and it may make sense to invest more time and money in developing better relationships. Conversely, if you’re working with a small client who already gives you 75% of their business, it might not be profitable to try to secure part of the remaining 25% share that represents just a few thousand dollars.
Next, create a list of tasks and activities to build relationships and increase sales. Map it out and be specific. Assign roles and responsibilities and establish milestones and goals. Then measure your progress regularly to keep on track.
Understand Customer Needs
Take a systematic approach to understanding your customer. Start with an internal relationship overview. Identify your key accounts, and make sure you track account performance, current initiatives, financial targets, and planning assumptions.
You can also develop a customer profile for each key account. Your team will record your customers’ business environment. These records will include segment analyses and maps of the competitive situation. Include lists of major challenges. You’ll also want to create customer portfolio matrixes which identify the products or services you provide. These profiles will allow you to see your strengths and identify areas for growth easily.
With this groundwork in place, it becomes possible to identify critical opportunities for each account. Outline what you want to achieve (objectives.) Set measurable goals and map out a top-level strategy for achieving those goals.
Customer alignment is the process of understanding customers’ expectations and determining how your value proposition addresses those needs. Of course, staying aligned with customers’ needs is essential, but you can build on customer alignment in ways that also create a barrier to entry for your competition.
It’s also important to know your customers’ decision-making process. Take time to find out how decisions are made, who makes them, who else is involved in the process, and the roles and responsibilities of all decision-makers. Take note of how they communicate and how they prefer to receive reports, bids, and other information. By thoroughly evaluating their process and customizing your communications, proposals, processes, and relationships accordingly, you mirror their corporate culture. Not only will additional intel help you create more successful bids, but customers will also notice that you “speak their language,” and that will make them feel that it’s just easier to work with your compane
Develop Implementation Plans
Once you understand customer needs, it’s time to create an implementation plan. This tactical action plan will include goals for potential revenue, strategies for increasing share of business, tactics to create barriers for the competition, and directions for removing obstacles to the decision process.
As part of this implementation plan, you’ll create a business development budget and include any identified risks. Don’t forget to have contingencies in case strategies and tactics do not perform as expected.
Ask Yourself Questions
Are you ready to create a systematic approach to increasing sales with existing customers? Start the process by asking yourself these questions:
- What are your major take-aways from this article? What are you already doing well? Where do you need to build processes and add checkmarks?
- Who will you identify for account planning and relationship building?
- What goals will you set, and how will you measure them?
- What will you do to follow up consistently?
- What challenges do you expect to face?
In today’s competitive world, there is no better and easier way to grow sales than with existing customers. To do that, a structured and disciplined approach is critical to maximizing sales growth with any given customer. Following the keys to success and structured approach noted in this article can help you and your company reach your full potential. At Metro Interior Distributors, we consistently seek to provide informative, helpful, and actionable initiatives that help you grow profitably. Connect with us today to find out how our building materials supply and delivery systems can help you gain more repeat business.