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How to Find Sales-Ready Opportunities in Your Customer Base

Written by Julie Dietz on April 25, 2016 at 8:30 AM

Easy ways to find sales-ready opportunitiies in your current customer base.

It's no secret that sales to existing customers generate a significant amount of revenue for businesses. Numbers vary, but Lattice reports that most companies get 50% or more of their revenue from their current customer base. Other research put the number even higher.

That's why many companies are focusing additional resources and sales effort on existing customers. The problem is that companies and sales teams can't always tell which of their existing customers are ready to buy more, and which ones should be nurtured. Just like acquiring new customers, trying to make a pitch or close a deal without first identifying and separating these two groups of customers will likely decrease productivity.

The upside is that organizations typically have a lot more data on existing customers, and can use that data to find quality revenue opportunities within their current customer base. According to The B2B Lead, even a 10% increase in lead quality can result in a 40% increase in sales productivity, so make finding quality leads and sales opportunities a priority.

Not sure how to get started? We've compiled five key steps to take when identifying sales opportunities and qualified leads in your current customer base.

5 Steps to Identify Sales-Ready Opportunities

Step 1) Identify Sources of Customer Activity Data and Start Monitoring Them

Your customer activity data is your principle tool for finding sales opportunities, so start by identifying your data sources and monitoring them.

Organizations likely have different places where customers interact, and all of them can be data sources. Some of the most common include email, social networks, online community platforms, account management records, your website and transaction registers. Identify which sources your organization has, and start using them to collect data.

Step 2) Analyze Your Customer Activity Data and Build a Profile

It will take time to collect information about your customers, but eventually you should use that data to create a profile of your ideal sales-ready customer. When you're just starting the process, use assumptions to create your profile, building on it over time.

Assume that customers who have had negative experiences with your support team are not sales opportunities at this time, for example. If your customers are using online community forums to discuss a specific challenge that your organization can solve through a product add-on, upgrade, or service, you can assume they would consider purchasing additional products or services to solve that challenge, and are a current or future sales opportunity.

As you get more information about how customers are interacting with you and their priorities, expand your sales-ready criteria and profile. Test the profile by contacting your sales-ready customers and recording who makes a purchase and who doesn't, eventually coming up with the key buying signals in your customer activity data that result in the most successful sales. Customers who fit the ever-evolving profile are opportunities for your team.

Step 3) Review Purchase History and Budget

When working with your sales-ready profile, you should consider the individual purchases and budget of your customers. These will give you specific information on each customer's existing solution set and capacity to make a purchase.

Review the products your customers have purchased, how frequently they make purchases, and how long it has been since their last purchase. If there's a purchase pattern, follow that pattern and contact your customer when their history indicates they're ready to buy.

Budget is another key point here. You don't want to offer a low-budget customer a very expensive item. If your customer stays in a single price point, you should too. If customer purchases start small and then increase in value, then they're likely an upsell or upgrade sales opportunity. Include these and more overt budgetary signals, such as comments in online communities about saving money for future purchases, when evaluating your sales opportunities.

Step 4) Review Current Events

While less explicit than budget and past purchases, current events in your customers' personal life, work, or industry could help you determine the quality of the sales opportunity. Are there any major shifts in communication or technology in your customer's field? Has a new problem arisen from a recent event? Do you have a product that could make things easier or fit the changing situation?

This type of opening is particularly easy to spot if your customers are discussing current events or recent changes in your customer community platform's discussion forums or blogs.

Take notice of what issues affect your customers, and find ways to help. The more likely your product is to solve their new problem or make the transition easier, the more likely it is that you've found a new sales opportunity.

Step 5) Still Not Sure? Start Scoring Your Leads

If you still have doubts about your sales opportunities or are overwhelmed by the number of customers you need to analyze, develop a lead scoring system. The premise behind this is the same as with new customers, and is used to gage how interested prospects are in your product, service, or solution.

To start, identify who your best opportunities are and what types of interactions they have with your company. Use those interactions to give each of your leads points. Leads might get five points for visiting your website, and 10 for posting in a discussion about your products, for example. If they ask when a new product will be available and what the price is, give them 25 points.

Customize the point system for your company, and add interactions with customers across multiple channels including email and support conversations. The more points your lead scores, the more interested they are in your product, and the higher they rank as a sales opportunity.

Identifying Sales Opportunities Takeaway

The more efficient you are at identifying sales opportunities in your existing customer base, the more productive your sales teams can be. To do this well, you can adapt some of the techniques you use with new business development, such as lead scoring, to determine how interested your customers are in making additional purchases.

It's important that you combine these techniques with analysis of current customers' online activity data to get the whole picture. These five steps will help you find, analyze, and use this information to build a detailed sales-ready customer profile, and identify the most promising sales opportunities in your current customer base.

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Topics: Customer Communities, Online Community

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