Every company, regardless of the industry, wants to see its revenue grow. Consistent growth is vital to stay ahead in the market and to provide resources for other aspects of the business.
While all internal teams are essential in supporting an organization, the spotlight often shines brightest on sales. But sales isn’t just an all-in-one department. It’s typically divided into two key areas for the business – new client acquisition and client retention.
Often, there’s a debate about which of these deserves more emphasis in business growth strategies. However, decision-makers need to weigh several factors before leaning too heavily towards one or the other.
What is Client Acquisition and Why is it Beneficial?
For every newly established business, the goal is simple – get more customers. Whether selling public safety solutions or providing construction services, client acquisition is the very essence of this goal and is about bringing new business into the company.
Client acquisition may look different for every organization. Depending on the type of business you run, it could involve establishing contracts with other businesses or directly selling products and services to end users. Regardless of the method, client acquisition is all about capturing “new” revenue streams that directly impact the bottom line.
The importance of gaining new clients is pretty clear – no customers mean no income. And without income, managing business expenses is a dead exercise. Understandably, this is why so many businesses heavily prioritize client acquisition, dedicating a large chunk of their budget to this process.
Key Benefits of Focusing on Client Acquisition
Client acquisition is a vital part of organizational growth and comes with its own set of benefits. Here are a few reasons why it should receive considerable attention in your sales strategy:
- Increased Sales: More clients means more sales, so as a business, putting focus on this area only makes sense. Without a steady stream of new clients, it’s hard to sustain long-term growth or even maintain your current level of revenue.
- Unlocks the Ability to Expand: Expansion is a key ingredient for creating a successful business. Staying in one place for too long will often see diminishing returns for the business as costs continue to rise and competition increases. Having more capital to add more sales team members and improve operations is an essential step to progressing the business forward.
- Creates Brand Awareness: One of the primary, if not only, priorities of a marketing team is to help attract new business and improve brand awareness. When businesses focus on client acquisition, they are often funding more efforts in their marketing campaigns and promotions. This is a core part of building more authority as a brand and attracting new customers.
- Diversifies Revenue Streams: If the pandemic has taught businesses anything over the past few years, it’s that diversifying your revenue streams is a critical part of business survival. By constantly seeking out new clients, you are spreading your eggs into multiple baskets, ensuring that your business isn’t overly reliant on just one source of income. This will help you weather unexpected changes in the market or absorb critical financial losses if you lose a larger client down the road.
What is Client Retention and Why is it Beneficial?
Client retention, on the flip side of the coin, is about growing and nurturing the new clients that you’ve gained over the years. In most sales settings, while teams who are focused on new client acquisition are considered “hunters,” account management teams who focus on client acquisition are considered “farmers.”
The ability to retain a client isn’t an easy task. It requires a strong, dependable relationship with the client while also being able to “farm,” or upsell, cross-sell, and otherwise grow the annual sales value of that client over time.
Given this reality, maintaining client relationships requires significant resources. It’s important to have well-trained account management teams to address the daily needs and concerns of your customers. Additionally, it’s essential to allocate dedicated resources to ensure client satisfaction remains consistent from the moment they become a customer.
Established client relationships are the backbone of a successful business. They offer a reliable stream of income and enable companies to predict their earnings and profits annually, establishing a strong financial foundation for the company.
Key Benefits of Focusing on Client Retention
Being able to maintain and grow your current list of clients is crucial for any business. Here are some key benefits of focusing on client retention:
- More Cost-Effective Than Acquisition: It’s proven that it is easier and more cost-effective to retain existing clients than acquire new ones. Unlike client acquisition efforts that require substantial budgets in tradeshows, long selling cycles, and outreach marketing campaigns, client retention doesn’t require as much investment and can be managed with a smaller team.
- Predictable Source of Revenue: Accurately forecasting company financials is key for businesses wanting to leverage their growth. Predictable client retention rates help businesses accurately project top-line revenue and profitability, which allows for more accurate resource planning and budgeting. It also helps them improve relationships with their banks and shareholders, each of which is important when trying to access capital for growth opportunities.
- Helps the Company Innovate: Having a Rolodex of active clients in a business is beneficial for more than just a steady stream of revenue. Current customers are pivotal in providing feedback about your products or services and helping you test new ideas. Taking this approach is smart because it minimizes the uncertainties associated with launching new offerings in wider markets and helps to optimize the use of company resources.
- Adds to Brand Image: The credibility of the clients that a business works with can significantly improve its own brand image. This is particularly valuable during a company’s early years when it hasn’t created a distinct identity in the marketplace yet. Building strong relationships with well-known clients not only builds confidence in the brand but also helps attract new clientele.
Strategies for Balancing Client Acquisition and Retention
Choosing between a focus on gaining new clients and holding onto existing ones is influenced by multiple unique factors. However, heavily leaning towards one side can be counterproductive and potentially lead to lost opportunities or a static list of clients.
The key lies in creating the right balance. Companies need to create sustainable methods that both draw in new clients and nurture the relationships with current ones. Some ways to achieve this include:
Focus on Accurate Forecasting
Running a business without a sales forecast is no different than flying blind. It’s impossible to know where to spend more of your time as a business if you don’t clearly understand your sales goals or have a plan to reach them.
Creating a transparent forecast covering both anticipated sales and potential growth opportunities makes it clearer where efforts should be focused. It’s important to remember that sale opportunities forecasted from revenue sources that haven’t yet been acquired come with a much higher risk of inaccuracy than those already under contract.
Planning adequate buffers around your revenue forecast to allow for unexpected downturns will ensure you’re not in a constant state of playing catch-up.
Get to Know the CLV (Customer Lifetime Value)
Assessing the importance of a potential client is dependent on understanding their CLV (Customer Lifetime Value). Assessing CLV is essential in determining the financial viability of acquiring a client and gauging their potential long-term value to the business.
It’s key to know, however, that CLV isn’t a constant variable – it can change for different reasons. For example, customers that may require the use of public safety software one day may completely shift their focus toward other solutions. Nevertheless, it’s an important metric for guiding strategic choices about going after certain sales leads.
By comparing the CLV of prospective clients with the acquisition costs, businesses can make smarter decisions, focusing their sales initiatives toward the most profitable clients.
Format Your Sales Teams Wisely
Organizing a sales team can look very different from one organization to the next. Depending on the sales leader’s preferences and the structure of the business, teams can sometimes be organized by new business development and account management or by territory and industry. However, depending on how sales teams are compensated, this can sometimes create a bias towards pursuing new clients over nurturing existing ones or vice versa.
Understanding the value of both new and existing customers is vital for every business. The type of clientele you aim for and the offerings you have can shape the structure of your sales team. By staying attuned to your sales objectives and ensuring they resonate with your broader business goals, you’ll keep your company on the right trajectory.
Find the Right Balance of Acquisition and Retention for Your Business
No one-size-fits-all strategy exists when deciding to focus on client acquisition versus retention. Every business has its own sales objectives, and each must decide for themselves the growth strategy that aligns best with their vision. However, it’s worth noting that bringing on new clients typically demands more resources and time than keeping existing ones. Both business development and account management require attention.
Focus on your sales data to get a clear picture of your business’s financial health. By creating realistic objectives and evolving your sales approaches to those benchmarks, you can establish the right balance between attracting and maintaining clients for your business.
Author: Kevin Ruef
Kevin Ruef co-founded 10-8 Systems after exceeding multiple companies’ sales records (both domestically and internationally). With more than a decade in sales, his experience ranges from B2B, B2G, and B2C. Since the company’s start in 2019, Kevin has been responsible for business development, strategic partnerships, and business operations.