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Despite having bought, sold, started, advised, and managed a number of businesses over the years, I would describe myself as more of an accidental entrepreneur than a serial one. As a result of all of this accidental entrepreneurship, I have determined there are just three simple steps to achieving the one objective almost every company has: sustainable growth.

You may wonder, how do you beat last year’s numbers? How do you hit the sales metrics you gave investors? And how can you take your business to the next level? The secret is a three-step process:

  1. Keep the customers you currently have.
  2. Sell more to those customers.
  3. Seek out new customers.

Now this may seem more like common sense than a secret, but too many companies invert this three-step process. Companies develop strategies that focus so intently on chasing new business, their most loyal, most lucrative clients fall by the wayside.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these steps, in order.

Step One: Keep the Customers You Currently Have

This first step may seem obvious — who doesn’t want to keep clients happy? But too many businesses take their eye off this ball as they pursue new leads.

Early on in my career, I worked with a CEO who was so obsessed with winning new contracts that he neglected to ensure stability of a contract that was earning us an annual net profit of over $1 million. As a result of that neglect, the contract was terminated. Even worse, other clients saw that contract termination as a sign and put their business up for bid. Eventually, the company went under. Lesson learned!

As a business owner or manager, ask yourself how much you would pay to guarantee the same sales you had last year? Now how much budget have you allocated towards that goal? You want to keep your clients happy but remember, you can only take so many people out to dinner or football games. You need a real and defined customer retention strategy.

Step Two: Sell More to Those Customers

Surely you’ve been asked, “Do you want fries with that?” or “Do you want a $4 pastry to go with your $5 coffee?” Add-on strategies don’t just work for fast food giants, they can and should be applied by other industries as well.

A friend of mine owns an HVAC company, and I always call on him for help with my A/C issues, which, if you live in Houston, are plenty. Amazingly, 13 years went by before I learned his company also provided plumbing services! No doubt if I had known, he could have grown his share of my wallet by 30%.

Remaining top-of-mind with your customers requires effectively communicating the full-value proposition of your business and is fundamental to sustainable growth. Make sure your customers are aware of full-range of your services. The fact is, finding new leads is expensive! Existing clients are low hanging fruit that you have already paid to acquire. These folks already trust you enough to do business with you – so let them!

Step Three: Seek out New Customers

This might seem to be a little more straight-forward than the first two, but you would be surprised at the lack of a true sales process in many organizations. Does your company utilize a CRM system? Are the sales people actually inputting the leads? Do you have a lead nurturing track for deals that don’t close on the first touch? Do you know what your cost of acquisition is? Before you hit your sales team with a stick and yell, “Go out and sell!” set them up to succeed with tools and data that shows what in your process is working and what isn’t.

Strategies for Sustainable Growth

In the current digital environment, many small and medium sized businesses are confused about how to formulate a plan for the future, given the role of social media, online advertising, the impact of email marketing, the need for a responsive website, CRM implementation and so on. At Newton Design & Marketing, we can help you develop and execute the right strategy to achieve your growth objectives. Contact us today or give us a call at (888) 552-7475.

Written by Chris Mulgrew