Sales teams - more people with "sales antennae up" = more wins
Sales teams – more people with “sales antennae up” = more wins

The investment required to make a sale is lower when selling to existing customers versus new customers. In the former, there is a relationship in place and you have extensive knowledge of the customer – including challenges, how they operate, and their decision process.

So a strategic question for driving profit is: Are you leveraging the investment in your existing customer base? One underutilized approach for achieving this goal is the potential for technical and service people to identify sales opportunities.

In major accounts, multiple people within your company are involved in implementing the sale and supporting the customer. These people spend a significant amount of time at the customer site. In the case of major IT or consulting engagements, it is every day for extended periods of time. Although the technical and service staffs have an opportunity to grow the business, they often don’t for a variety of reasons – such as they don’t see it as their job, they don’t have the skills and/or they just don’t like doing it.

Yet, these people can play two key roles in growing the business.

  • The first and most obvious is providing quality products and services. After all, the effectiveness of the work all of these people do has a direct impact on a customer’s satisfaction with the solutions your company offers. Success brings additional sales; failure takes a company out of consideration for future business.
  • The second role is more difficult and is often totally neglected. Every person who interacts with customers should have their antennae “up” for potential opportunities for their company. This can take several forms – being alert for new opportunities coming down the pike with existing contacts or with different contacts within the customer organization. This perspective is especially important when a company offers a wide range of solutions where the customer might not be aware of the breadth of their offerings.

Regarding the second role, the technical person should simply to “keep their heads up”. They should identify possible opportunities and convey to the customer an awareness about capabilities. This is about identification, not selling. If the opportunity looks promising, they need to alert the salesperson.

When seeking to sell more to existing customers, it isn’t just the responsibility of your salespeople. Everyone who interacts with the customer should be a member of the sales team.