A business associate returned  from a manufacturers’ conference reporting new opportunities for growth and business development among attendees were generally coming from them looking at current clients in new ways.

What a great, often overlooked, reminder.

While it may be easy for organizations to get bored with their same old clients, surprising, unrealized new opportunities are often present with clients you have had for years. To discover new opportunities with current clients, however, can depend on pushing what you’re already doing on business development into new areas.

Five Ideas to Discover New Opportunities with Current Clients

Here are five ideas for taking your business development efforts into new, unexplored territory, by discovering new opportunities with current clients:

1. Go beyond just knowing your client’s job responsibilities

Make sure you know the range of duties for which your client contact has responsibility. Also find out, however, where your client spends too much or too little effort versus how they would like to allocate their time. A client spending more time than desired on an activity signals an opportunity to offer new ways to streamline and reduce demands on them. Areas where they aren’t spending enough time could be new opportunities to address what’s missing in their desired efforts.

2. Discover your customer’s business challenges beyond your category

After calling on a customer for some time, you may only focus on challenges they have tied to your product or service. Work to discover a customer’s biggest challenges outside your business category, too. With a broader view of a customer’s challenges, you can identify additional opportunities to solve, situations a partner can help address, or completely new business solutions to stretch your organization.

3. Ask how all your customer’s vendors are performing

It’s always helpful to play the Spy vs. Spy game of trying figure out how you’re doing relative to direct competitors. Additionally, start concerning yourself with how the providers of any product or service your client uses are making your client more successful. You can uncover value-creating approaches other vendors have identified for your client that you may be able to engineer into what you deliver for them.

4. Take a backward look at your client’s purchase decisions

If a customer is doing business with you, they’re “satisfied,” or they’d choose one of the many other options available to them. Instead of focusing on satisfaction levels when talking directly with clients, spend time discussing why the client STARTED and continues to buy from you. This line of discussion provides the opportunity to see if you’re still meeting initial expectations, if you’ve expanded the value you’re delivering, and if new needs/decision factors are shaping the client’s CURRENT expectations.

5. Dig for the problems being created for your client by . . . (wait for it) . . . you

It’s nice to hear nice things about how you are performing for a client. Beyond probing for what’s going well, it’s critical to uncover the customer’s biggest issues and how your organization could be unknowingly exacerbating them. Getting to the heart of this yields vital insights into how products, services, and processes your organization considers standard gum up the works for your clients and hold back your growth in serving them.

What are you doing to look at current clients in new ways to discover new growth opportunities?

There are obviously many more approaches to look at current clients to find new opportunities. These five ideas, however, can definitely open up unaddressed possibilities in any long-term business relationship. - Mike Brown


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