Situation: The CEO of a service company needs to expand its market base due to concerns that a significant service and referrals partner may decide to stop working with them. A break-up would have significant impact on salaries, effort and focus. The company’s priority is to expand client growth to minimize the impact of a break-up. How do you expand your market base?
Advice from the CEOs:
- To expand or build a market requires a champion. Someone like the company’s founder who has the passion and contacts to build new business.
- Second, incentives must be established to reward success bringing in new clients. These incentives must have teeth – no success, no incentive. No safety valves.
- Third, create a plan to support the new business development – including marketing, event attendance, etc.
- Initially, be selective and target just a few highly desirable new clients to test and refine the client attraction model before expanding to the broader potential client audience.
- Build a set of case studies of services and results for new clients.
- Track and prove out the profitability and workability of this model.
- How should the effort to expand the market base be constructed?
- Start with preparation. Research the current prospect list to assure that they are good prospects. Also look at the current company culture – do the company’s strengths align with what is needed to attract and serve new clients?
- If the research shows that a significant number of prospects are different from current clients, think of this as a new channel. Create a different business unit to specialize in serving these clients. Hire a team to focus exclusively on the new client group, with proper incentives tied to achievement with these prospects.
- Another company had a similar choice. They created a program to increase their market base and went after it with full focus. It took five years to accomplish vs. the two years that they had planned. Nevertheless, the results have been worth the effort and expense. If the company believes in the model, invest in it.