What plans have you to retain the customer base and NOT just focus on the new. Often there is a great deal more in existing customer lemons worth asking and squeezing for more value for both. How well do you manage the value of established relationships and the contract terms there are under
Do you have a date summary of deals signed with a warning system for renewals (well in advance of when the competition start opening up discussions)? Do you have a rolling proposition that you manage without complacency? Do you look to find new and innovative ways to prove your value to existing client – some paid, some market intelligence shared to show your passion and expertise in your sector? Do you share this knowledge with other salespeople to maximise the message and to build an outstandingly valuable all-around proposition to your customer – who wants not to have to depend only on a risky one-man band?
In maximising value what condition are your contracts in? Contracts will literally be valued as an asset. The time they have to run, whom they are with, of course, the value that they outline as sold services but there is much more to a contract than just this. Too many companies do not rigorously manage their contracts, nor their terms and conditions of sale?
Longer high-quality professional contracts will be protected against competition, they can add value to your brand positioning in the market, they can extend your profitability potential of a relationship with the client and they can, in fact, protect you from redundant stock, difficult service issues and a myriad of other issues that can arise over a term. To run a grown-up business the paperwork system and process you need in place will perhaps be the difference between success and failure.
Capture please the details of the way you service the customer and think very carefully about experiences you have had in the past and make sure eventualities are outlined so that there are no surprises during the delivery phase. Don’t be over ridiculous, but find a happy place where the client feels they are dealing with professionals – indeed a great contract will really support your image as a growing and mid-sized company – don’t fake it – it is a statement of your intent.
Finally and most importantly do not ever allow yourself to “win” a solid and stretching piece of new business – exciting though it may be – with perhaps a big target new customer without crossing the I’s and dotting the t’s. Too many times I hear of disagreement because a small company in its enthusiasm to deliver exciting new growth does not pay enough attention to the hard cold facts of commercial contracting. Big companies will have legal teams galore to frighten you off and to challenge you. DO NOT be put off, made afraid – get and perhaps pay for great advice which need not break the bank so that you are fully covered. This is an investment worth making – I once was paid a considerable amount of cash for a company that changed their brand standards and simply did not want an already made product help in our stock with their custom name on it. Had I not covered in detail our stock, manufacturing and service conditions and the eventuality of wishing to change packaging from sign off custom artwork we would have been stung very considerably. Instead, thanks to the detailing of the contract we have a considerable 6 figure payout in cash. Wow did that make the effort worthwhile?
If you and your organisation can unleash the potential of building a continuous improvement culture throughout your business – all power to your growth potential. There are a myriad of tips and checklists, frameworks and templates to be found at or Business Frameworks site
Lara Morgan is best known for growing Pacific Direct, from start-up to successful exit, 23 years later. She now invests her time in fast growth companies and represents UKTI as an Export Ambassador, having previously exported to 110 countries. Her vast experience and business knowledge includes specialisms in licensing luxury brands, manufacturing toiletries and selling to the hospitality environment through complex global distribution chains. She's also an expert in leadership and developing talent having learnt through her own experiences of employing 500 employees in an open fast growth sales culture.