A lot of companies we talk to are stuck in their comfort zones. They tend to talk mostly to their current customers, network at the same events over and over, and their salespeople leverage their existing networks to the best of their abilities. This approach is great for holding on to your current market share. But if you’re looking to grow, it won’t get you very far. If your company's growth has stagnated or is not growing as fast as you would like, keep reading.
When we first start working with a client, we often hear, “Our growth has been flat.” The reason for that flat growth, a lot of times, is that many of the companies we work with are sales-focused. When a new salesperson is hired, they bring with them a fresh new network of prospects and referral partners, but eventually, that network gets exhausted and new customer acquisition slows. It’s a natural process. No matter how well connected an individual is, they eventually talk to everyone they know and begin slowly adding to their network while maintaining their existing relationships. This is when growth plateaus.
Maintaining existing relationships is not a bad thing. It’s good. It keeps you close to your customers and prevents market erosion. It’s particularly important in tough markets. But if you are going to grow, you have to get your name out there and begin new client acquisition outreach or what we at BlueByrd call “talking to strangers.” No matter what your mom or ’80s popstar Rick Springfield told you, we recommend talking to strangers because new client acquisition is the name of the game if you want to achieve rapid top-line growth.
When thinking about new customer acquisition, it’s helpful to think about prospects in groups because some are easier to acquire than others. Let’s take a look at the different types, ranging from easiest to capture to hardest.
Growing existing accounts normally does not lead to fast growth unless you are working with a really big client and you have a very small percentage of their business. If that’s the case, you should exhaust every effort to capture that business because it is a low-cost way to grow your revenue. This still means talking to strangers in most cases. In big organizations, there are many silos with lots of profit centers, geographic regions, and product lines that you are not currently talking to. Reaching out to them still requires your sales force to talk to strangers. It’s just easier because you already have a foothold in the company, and your salesforce can ask for introductions. Your cost of customer acquisition (COCA) will be the lowest here. This is where a modified account-based marketing approach can help your salespeople secure that new business from the account.
We aren’t referring to cousin Balki from the hit ’90s TV show starring Bronson Pinchot. Sometimes called “new logos,” these are companies that you haven’t worked with before but are a good fit for your business and offerings. They are potential customers from heaven. You just haven’t been able to tap into their business yet. They are most likely working with a company like yours or an alternative solution to yours, but they don’t know about you. Acquiring perfect strangers is where most companies see the greatest potential for revenue growth. Your COCA will go up a bit because you need to advertise to capture the attention of perfect strangers. Depending on what you sell, there may be a fair amount of education necessary to capture them. Since they are already aware of their pain points and the other competitors and alternative solutions in the market, it won’t take as long to capture them as other strangers, but you will need to engage in brand awareness and other top-of-the-funnel marketing tactics, so bring your wallet and carve out an advertising strategy and budget that makes sense to you.
These are tougher strangers to acquire. They are prospects in new industries or immature markets. They have never heard of your organization or, worse yet, associate you with something completely different from what they buy. Maybe they have never considered your solution. Maybe they are a big enterprise client, and you have only sold to small- or medium-sized businesses. Either way, you may not speak their language, and they don’t speak yours. These prospects are going to require some time and money to acquire. Selling directly to them is tough because B2B customers only buy products and services they understand from companies they trust. This is where you need a lot of brand awareness in the form of educational content, lead magnets, webinars, and sales tools, among others This content won’t be cheap. You will need to advertise, and you should not expect immediate results, particularly if you have a novel offering or are selling to an immature market.
OK, that is my dad's voice coming out, but there are some strangers that you don’t want to talk to. They will be time wasters because they won’t value your offerings no matter how much you invest. Watch out for them because they will beat you down on price and give your salespeople the runaround. If you do win their business, they will drive your operations people crazy. Avoiding them is simple once you recognize them, but if they are strangers in a strange land, it will take you a while to recognize the good ones from the bad ones. At first, they will all look great to your salespeople, but keep an eye out for trouble and closely monitor the profitability of these customers. Eventually, you will be able to form a profile for customers from heaven and customers from hell.
Talking to strangers can be scary for some, but we strongly encourage it. Sure, talking to strangers has its risks, but at the end of the day, it is the only way to achieve rapid growth. Just be prepared to invest in client outreach and explore new communications channels. If you are looking to talk to strangers, BlueByrd can help you explore the best ways to achieve the greatest ROI on your investment. Just reach out to us … and we can chat … and don’t be a stranger!
When writing this, I was reminded of the many songs with “stranger” in the title. Here’s a link for some musical inspiration.
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