This is an excerpt from my second book, Managing the Sales Process, available on Amazon.com. You can find a series of these excerpts in a dedicated blog category to get a broad overview, post-by-post, of the book (they are listed in reverse order in the category, so start with the oldest).

From Chapter 2 – The Right Skills

Lead Generation – Part 2

The second subcategory of lead generation, existing customers, is one that ─ surprisingly enough ─ many salespeople I have talked to underestimate when they complain about not knowing how to find leads. Existing customers are a great source of new business, but to be successful with this, they need to be thought of as leads to be prospected for new pieces of business. I’m not suggesting that they are forgotten by salespeople, but rather that proactively and systematically treating them as leads for new pieces of business is rarely done as proficiently as it could or should be.

Using existing contacts as leads can take many forms, and a few of them will be discussed below. But right from the start, do recognize that in this respect, lead generation (of existing customers) is synonymous with relationship management. Unless the goal of managing the relationship is something other than continuing the business relationship, this should be self-evident.

Within this second category, we can also include practices such as CRM mining and cross-selling. CRM mining means re-contacting people who were contacted by your company a long time ago, maybe by someone else in the company who is no longer there. Things have changed for your company and maybe for theirs as well. The new set of circumstances might foster a business connection this time.

Cross-selling means that if a company has multiple product lines or territories that are served by different salespeople, there is the potential to use the other salespeople in your organization as indirect lead sources.

With any of the lead sources in this second category ─ existing customer, CRM mining or cross-selling ─ the important point is to be proactive. Existing customers won’t always just come to you, nor will names in your CRM, and your colleagues will be more likely to connect you to one of their customers if you ask for it. Being deliberate, systematic, and proactive about these lead generation techniques is the real trick. There may be no better source of leads, but only if you pursue them.

When it comes to existing clients as lead sources for new business, most people agree that source is a good one. However, in my experience, most people also have no disciplined formula for proactively managing them for this purpose. The solution is painfully easy:

What’s next?

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Authors note (AKA shameless plugs)

So, this 7-step sales process and associated topics…. Yup, I write about that a lot. I’ve been working with it since I developed it about 25 years ago – in my own diverse work experiences, with my teams when I had them, and with clients ever since.

If you would like to develop you own personalized and customized, highly effective and efficient B2B selling system, here are some further steps you can take:

The Salesman’s Guide to Dating is a free or very cheap (depending on Amazon) Kindle book that walks you through the sales process using the familiar analogy of dating. It’s a good, fun and quick way to get your mind around the whole process and how the pieces fit together.

Building Your Sales Process (BYSP) is a free and very thorough exploration of the same 7-step process that will walk you through the development of your own customized, personal B2B selling system. When you are done, you will know exactly what to do to get new business.

The Momentum Selling System® is an inexpensive but very robust online sales training course that is similar to BYSP, but goes deeper into the concepts behind each of the steps, and also helps you develop a plan not only for the 7-step process but also addresses mindset, repeat business and client base management.

If none of that sounds right, I do personal coaching and offer a free 30-minute intake session so that we can both learn if it makes sense to work together 1-on-1. If this sounds interesting, click over to the coaching page on this site and sign up for the free session.

Here’s to your success!

-David