It wasn’t too many years ago that I traveled with a rep into one of his better accounts. I mean, these people loved him. They bought anywhere from 5-8 of his products. If my memory serves me right the account could have been worth about six to seven hundred thousand dollars in annual business. This rep had about $125,000 worth of that business.
The rule of thumb is this-successful salespeople don’t think in terms of individual orders. They think in terms of getting all the business every customer has to give. That was a direct quote from The Economics Press-1987. I couldn’t have said that any better myself. This raises an interesting question for sales managers and their salespeople. How much time do your salespeople spend prospecting new accounts vs. increasing business in existing accounts?
In the case of Hesitant Harry who starred in the opening paragraph, he didn’t want to “push the envelope” by being too pushy and asking for more business. To make matters more interesting or moronic, depending on how you look at it, Harry’s account had a sister company 20 miles away that needed similar products. Old Hesitant never made the call to this other account. This is the kind of stuff that makes sales managers go gray assuming there is any hair left.
If you manage in a company where there are numerous product offerings then your salespeople should be looking for every opportunity to expand business in all their accounts where they have some business already. This sounds so simple yet I wonder how many salespeople are leaving money on the table by not asking for more of the business.
One way around this is to run an inventory of all the products an account uses that they could buy from your company. Determine the potential in dollars for the account. If there is a large gap between current dollars and potential then your rep has some work to do.
It is legitimate to ask yourself and your salespeople how much time they should spend growing existing business vs. prospecting for new accounts. I don’t believe there is a rule of thumb for the ratio of time involved with growing vs. prospecting. It will depend on too many factors for me to give a reliable number. The point is-create a ratio for your salespeople. I’d wager to say that you’ll grow between 10 to 15 percent by growing existing business.
The Final Thought: Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.” Dale Carnegie