by Tom Reilly

“When you stop growing, you start dying.” William S. Burroughs

For the majority of businesses, growth is a given. Salespeople grow their territories two ways—selling more to existing customers, and finding new prospects. We just completed a survey on “Growing Your Business.” We surveyed a few hundred B2B salespeople. This is what we discovered:

  • 57% believe that growth from existing customers offers the greatest potential for new business.
  • 43% believe that the greatest potential for new business comes from finding new prospects.
  • Referrals from existing customers, friends, or peers ranked number one for identifying new prospects.
  • In-person visits ranked number one for initiating contact with new prospects.
  • In-person visits ranked number one for follow-up on this contact.
  • Getting past the gatekeeper is the greatest challenge for salespeople.

Two findings from our research stand out. First, salespeople recognize the importance and urgency of prospecting for new business. They realize that they cannot rest on their laurels and hope what they have always had will always be there for them. Second, they validate the importance of face-to-face selling. For those who are uptight about the impact of technology on sales, relax. Professional selling remains a flesh-pressing endeavor. E-mail and phone are complementary, not supplementary tools for in-person selling.

There are three types of businesses. This first type plans for growth and positively engages change. They drive change and make things happen. The second type watches things happen. The third type wonders what happened. You can be the company that drives change. To do this, you need a growth plan that utilizes both growth dynamics—existing customers, and prospects.

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