Supporting businesses from different industries we realized that most companies were struggling with that question and that more often than not their efforts were disjointed.
Without further adieu let’s get into it!
In this article we will discuss the 3 main pillars of growth :
- Customer Loyalty
- Customer Acquisition and new business development
First and foremost you MUST leverage all 3 pillars!
See your business as a splendid antique vase, would you put it on a table that is missing one of its legs?
The winning combination for Business Growth: Acquisition - Loyalty - Referrals
Let’s take an example:
Take 3 companies in a similar market: A, B, and C. For these companies:
Acquisition: business development and new customer acquisition investments generate 20% of the previous year’s turnover in new business.
Customer Loyalty: thanks to good customer service and loyalty program the company “X” loses only 10% of its revenue from last year’s clients.
Referrals: the deployment of a good referral program enable the company “X” to sign on average 1 new client for every 10 existing clients.
Of course, you can do much better for each of those pillars but bear with me and see what these numbers entail.
Now let’s assume that companies A, B, and C, did $100K in revenue this year, based on the assumptions above this is what will happen the following years:
Do you see where we are going with this?
Within 3 years the company that leveraged all 3 pillars will have 3 times more revenue than the one that is not using Customer Acquisition and Referrals.
Of course in real life, nothing is ever that linear. There is no black or white situation either, usually every company leverage each pillar at some point, usually not consistently and efficiently though. The point is when you do more you stack the odds in your favor.
On top of that developing each pillar and finding success usually starts a snowball effect that increase your results year over year. So in the example we just mentioned the difference would probably be much greater between company A and C.
Now you are probably thinking that to manage to successfully master all 3 pillars you must have very deep pockets and that it is much more costly to develop all 3 than just 1.
Which is true, but not actually as much as you would think, because a lot of the investments for each pillar synergize very well. At the end of the day it actually costs less to invest in all 3 pillars at once than to develop one pillar at a time.
Because most of the investments needed for one of the pillars can be used for another one you can significantly boost your Return on Investment (ROI).
Now let's take a closer look at each pillar of growth.
They are not ranked in order of importance as they are ALL absolutely necessary. Remember the numbers from the example, missing out on any of those is costing you a lot!
There are a lot of facets to Customer Loyalty, but the main thing you have to keep in mind is that if your clients stop buying from you, you have to start from scratch.
It is so difficult to create and grow a new business from scratch because every project, every sale, especially B2B sales, requires considerable effort.
You absolutely do not want to go back to that stage of your business so you want to be able to rely on your clients, keep them coming back and get easy wins.
How do you keep your clients coming back?
You may be thinking that customer loyalty is obvious. Either your product/service is great and your clients will never want to stop buying from you, or it is bad and they will never come back. You could not be further from the truth! First of all, it is much much more complicated than that. Of course, the quality of your offering will have a huge impact, but you are not the only one that does what you do, and you may not even be the best. There is always a competitor out there that is either cheaper, better, more practical, or more connected.
The point is you can’t just rely on your product/service, you have to ensure that the overall experience of your client is satisfactory and that he has no reason to want to go with anyone else.
Let’s assume that your product/service is good and that your clients are satisfied, what can you do to ensure that they will remain your clients?
You can both:
- Create a strong bond by improving your customer relationship
- Structure your offerings in order to sustainably support your clients
The customer relationship - from transactional to relational.
This is it. The moment of the article where I am advising you to be nice and polite with your clients. What a scoop am I right?
That out of the way, the key point to remember about Customer Relationship is that it goes much much further than being nice and professional etiquette. Obviously, if you want to have any business success you have to be professional with your customers but you can’t rely on just that.
You must have an actual RELATIONSHIP with your clients. They should hear from you regularly, throughout your collaboration, not just at the beginning and the end. There is nothing worse than silence.
Your friends remain your friends only if you regularly talk to them, otherwise, you become a complete stranger in a few years. It's a hundred times worse with your customers. Did you manage to create a relationship that led to a sale? You have to nurture that relationship! DO NOT LOSE IT!
Whether you sell services or products you must stay in touch with your customers. Too often, we see the person who sold to the customer disappear after signing the contract and only come back when he wants to sell more.
Put yourself in your client’s shoes! It is not how you want to make him feel.
Clients often sign with a person more than a company.
Yes, you read well, you have to do nurture personal relationships, we are in the digital era but, human interactions are more than ever at the core of the buyer’s decision-making process.
Be a part of his team, be available, share interesting content. Hold on to the connection so that you do not have to recreate it.
How to structure your offering for long-term growth
Your clients hired you because they have a need, but mostly because they have challenges to deal with. When you fulfill their need, does your client still need you?
No matter what industry you are in you have to, you need to widen your professional scope so that you help your clients face those challenges rather than filling their needs here and there. You want to be more of a partner less of a supplier.
This is so important because of how hard it is to get new clients. Think about it there is a limit to the number of clients you can get. If you want to be able to grow indefinitely you must be able to find new clients and most importantly find new opportunities with your existing clients.
If your clients are satisfied with your services, you should be able to offer them support in different ways and/or other areas, in order to maintain this mutually beneficial relationship. In addition, a need can be covered punctually, but the challenges of your customers persist for a long time. And these are the issues that you must address with a wider range of solutions.
There is no one-size fit all system we can give you to help you structure your offer, it depends first and foremost on your clients’ needs and then on your ability to answer them in new ways.
But I can share with you, what we do at Sales Odyssey.
Example of Diversification:
Our purpose is to help our customers grow their business in a sustainable way.
Initially, we just helped our clients with prospecting and structuring their commercial processes to improve new business development. But we quickly expanded our activities and offered services for the other pillars, such as the implementation of marketing automation, the creation of customer referral programs, or coaching on sales techniques.
By talking with our clients we realized that what they really need is more revenue, they all want to strengthen their business. New business development is the first thing that comes to mind but it is not the only way, and actually not always the best way to generate new revenue. Because it is so important to leverage all pillars if you want to sustainably grow your business, it was only logical that we help our clients with all 3 pillars, because our purpose is to help our customers grow their business in a sustainable way.
These “new” services leveraged techniques and technologies that we already mastered. We only needed to rethink how we use them and create new additional offers that enhanced the effectiveness of our support.
New Business Development and Customer Acquisition
You will not be able to grow and sustain your business if you don’t purposefully look to develop new business.
Talk about obvious!
That being said…
Did you do any prospecting this week?
When was the last time you did some cold outreach?
Have you launched an advertising campaign on social networks and/or search engines?
Do you have a relevant content strategy? Do you share content on a regular basis?
I know SO obvious right?
Customer Acquisition in the digital era
In 2022, to have a good business development strategy you have to efficiently combine marketing and sales.
Often the two are separated into different teams, sometimes on different buildings or even in different countries! Just to make sure they are not communicating with each other. Because Marketing and Sales are so different they really have no business collaborating… WRONG!
That compartmentalization is evident in the wording specific to Marketing and Sales. Customer Acquisition is Marketing’s goal, New Business Development is the purpose of Sales.
Wait a minute, what is the difference?
What if Marketing and Sales were actually on the same team trying to achieve the same goal?
Yep, you read that right Marketing and Sales are basically doing the same job. The whole goal is to generate new revenue for the company.
Of course, the methods and underlying goals are different but the point is that you need both if you want to be successful and that they need to work together to improve each other’s results.
What is the point of having a lot of traffic on your website, tons of inquiries if they never lead to sales?
How can a Sales representative convince leads if he can’t rely on proper communication media? Poor branding/website/presentation will significantly hinder Sales chances out of the gate.
Efficient collaboration between Marketing and Sales team is key to consistently be successful at acquiring new clients AND developing new business.
In 2022, Prospecting like inbound marketing relies on good content creation to capture and retain the attention of leads. Why not collaborate as well as share insights and best practices to develop the best content possible for each situation.
Leveraging this synergy your content will significantly improve and have a greater impact on your prospects.
Why you should invest in business development
Business Development is time-consuming, it can be costly as well.
Also, you may not know what you should be doing, or how.
Nonetheless, you MUST invest in Business Development.
Here’s the deal, if you only count on your current clients, hoping that Word of Mouth will magically bring you more clients you may be successful for a while. But at some point, you will have exhausted that well. That niche you conquered can be great for you but at some point, it will run out of new opportunities. Then what happens if that niche collapse?
An economic slowdown, the rise of a competitor, change of priority… you could lose all your clients at any time.
Even if you lose just a few clients this will seriously jeopardize your company. You won’t have opportunities lined up to replace the lost revenue and you will have to make some adjustments to survive (namely downsizing). If you’re not growing you're dying.
Investing in Business Development will help you build and supply a pool of diverse potential customers.
On top of that Business Development will help you learn a lot about your market. You will see first hand what your clients really need, what they want to hear. You will discover what your competition does and who they sold to. These insights enable you to retain your competitiveness in your market instead of losing sights of what truly matters for your clients and becoming irrelevant.
Marketing and Sales efforts share your value proposition with your targets. Every reply, each reaction to your content will provide you everything you need to measure if what you are offering fits with your target’s needs.
If you don’t have that constant reality check from potential customers you will lose touch won’t be able to convert them.
We have written articles that can help you navigate what you should do for your organization. If you want to be successful at developing new businesses read these articles :
Referral programs: Leverage your most valuable resource.
Why invest in Referral Programs?
If you don’t have a Referral Program in place you are missing out on the easiest opportunities to get new clients.
It is without a doubt the most cost-effective and powerful way to close new businesses. Yet, it is the one that is most often forgotten.
“But Nicolas, why would I need to ask my clients to refer me? If he is satisfied he definitely will spread the word on his own…”
Obviously he has nothing else to do but promoting your company and selling your services/products for you.
Of course, he won’t! Remember, your clients are BUSY.
I lived a few months in England, in Newcastle. There they speak English but
Mon dieu que je déteste cette phrase. J’ai vécu pendant quelques mois dans le Nord de l’Angleterre, à Newcastle. There, we speak an unusual English: “Geordie”. On my first day I was told this:
« Shy bairns get nowt »: I obviously did not understand a word. Here’s what it means in real English if you are not fluent in Geordie :
"Shy children get nothing".
All is said.
Just because someone is willing to do something does not mean they will not do it on their own.
So never forget to ASK, get your customers involved in your sales efforts. Make sure they are satisfied and give them a platform to share their satisfaction. If you REWARD them properly you can be sure the referrals will be coming.
How to implement a successful Referral Program?
Showcasing customer feedback, getting client testimonials, building case studies… can all be great content to acquire new clients, but this is not what a Referral Program is about. It can (and should) be a part of it but it is not the meat and potatoes of the Program.
The reason Referral Programs are so effective is because it is so much easier to convince referred leads.
We know that B2C and B2B are very different, but we can still learn from B2C. Look at how prominent Referral Programs are in B2C. Every B2C company as a “Refer a friend” program.
The most successful B2C companies also have Affiliate programs.
What is the point of those? Their own clients become their sales representatives. They don’t have to do anything once these programs are set up, they don’t have them on their payroll… They just need the right program in place, which will make it easy for clients to refer them and reward their clients when they make a sale for them.
Why would you not want that for your B2B company?
If every time you sign a new client, he refers you to a new client you will never stop growing.
A Referral Program can mean a lot of things, really anything is possible. What’s important is that it exists and that it fits your company and your clients.
It can be very simple, you don’t need a reward system, you don’t have to automate everything right off the bat. You can keep these as avenues to improve your program down the road.
Here is the easiest thing you can do, and we’ve had tremendous success with this program with our clients:
From there you are back in their minds, if they have needs they will send you purchase orders (it happened for our clients!). By starting the conversation who knows what you will find out. By talking about their needs and their experience you can gently elicit referrals as well as get valuable feedback.
It's rudimentary and yet it works! We have seen impressive results in various industries. From IT consulting to event planning and even printing companies can all benefit from Referral Programs. So why not your company?
If you are ready to get these "easy" new clients contact us and we will make it happen.
Of course, you can have a much more elaborate Referral Program, but that will be the topic of another article!
As promised at the beginning of the article, here is the summary of what we discussed in this article:
How to sustain a double-digit growth rate?
To sustain such growth, you must invest in the 3 main pillars of growth:
- Customer Acquisition & New Business Development: synergize your sales and marketing efforts to to implement effective prospecting and inbound marketing strategies.
- Customer Loyalty: value relationships above transactions. Stay in touch with your clients and always provide them value. Offer a variety of solutions that answer your client’s needs to collaborate with them over time.
- Referrals: be proactive. Keep your customer satisfied, ask for their feedback and incentivize them to refer you. Rewarding your clients that are bringing you more business will greatly benefit you in the long run.