We often work with a lot of clients who are just starting out in sales or business, and they often have a lot of the same questions. One of the most popular is; ‘how much time do I spend servicing my existing clients as opposed to canvassing new clients when starting out?’
In a lot of cases, it really depends on what the product or service is that you are offering when you’re starting out in sales or business. I often use an analogy talking about catching and eating your own food. If you think about this from a fisherman’s perspective there’s really three stages:
- you’re catching fish or catching new food;
- you are scaling and cooking the fish that you have caught or hooked;
- lastly, you have fish sitting in the bain-marie waiting to be eaten.
To put this into perspective, the customers that you’ve already obtained and are looking to retain, or re-service, or get to re-subscribe, they’re the fish that are sitting in the bain-marie waiting to be eaten. If you have clients that have already engaged your marketing material, have already accepted an appointment, have already received a brochure, a video from you, then they are fish that have been hooked and are in the process of being scaled and cooked.
Lastly, if you’re looking to engage clients for the very first time then those are clients that are still in the water. You’ve got bait on a hook and you’re looking to catch them. The way to look at it is like this; if all you’re doing is eating out of your bain-marie then eventually you’ll run out of food. You will have overindulged and it may take a period of time, days, weeks, or months, before you have the opportunity to be able to eat again. So, that alone isn’t sufficient.
On the other hand, if you’re constantly spending time cooking and scaling food then number one you’re gonna go hungry. And number two, by the time that you finish cooking and scaling, not only is the first fish that you’ve cooked and scaled going to be inedible, but also you’re not going to have any new fish that have been hooked.
So, with all that being said, there’s definitely a combination that is required between the three and for anyone in the first year of starting out in sales or business, I’d work on the 80/20 principle, or the Pareto Principle.
If you have 50 hours in the working week, use 40 hours in the first two stages. Landing and then obtaining customers that are transacting with you for the first time, and 20% of your time is then spent servicing and retaining the customers that you already have. Eating the fish that are in your bain-marie, to go back to the metaphor.
Over time that can also begin to even out. It might look like 70/30, 60/40, and eventually 50/50, but the reality is that if you don’t service the customers you already have then they are not going to be delivered a level of customer service that makes them want to purchase from you for a second time. They’re not going to begin to refer their friends and family to you, and they’re not going to offer you the five star reviews on Facebook and Google.
It is absolutely essential that an appropriate amount of time is designed to the service of existing customers. It’s very easy to just focus on generating a business when starting out in sales or business, but again just having more and more and more and more customers piled in but no back-end solidification or retention of those customers really is not a rewarding exercise.
So when you’re starting out, it’s best to work on the 80/20 principle or the Pareto Principle of spending your first year 80% obtaining new clients, 20% servicing the ones you already have. Then you can begin to equalise over a period of time where the repeat custom of your existing clients is sufficient to be able to sustain you – or at least meet a bottom-line expectation against your revenue. At that point, new client acquisition doesn’t become an essential component, and you might even begin to automate your new client acquisition through digital media or another channel.
The SWISH Sales Method not only teaches you how best to approach new customers, but practiced methods for taking care and retaining the customers you already have. These methods are key for any business or salesperson who’s just starting out. To learn more about the strategies of SWISH selling and integrity in sales and life, read about our sales training, sales coaching, and sales courses. No matter if you are located in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast or anywhere in Australia we are able to assist in providing the most innovative ethical sales training.