Service providers often ask Everest Group for advice on how to grow their business faster. We usually find that their starting-point perspective has a pitfall. They fall for the seduction of new logos.
The problem with this growth strategy is that it’s very difficult to win a brand new customer without “privilege.” Privilege is not a well-understood concept, but basically it requires that your company has an existing relationship with a customer. Where this is not the case your company will have to prove that it is credible, different from competitors and special. Specialness is the depth of understanding that you have in the uniqueness of the customer, an industry or a function. Obviously it’s easier to build this within an existing client base.
In most service industries, companies can grow three to four times faster in their existing client base than they can by adding new clients. Why? Because they already have a relationship, and the customers understand that the provider is “special.”
The master of this strategy is Cognizant. They are great at enlarging the “mine.” To do this, they sell more to their existing stakeholder groups, creating new mines in that client base. They are very adept at befriending and really understanding CIOs, CTOs and department managers’ needs where they already serve a client.
The first thing they do is look for a new mine in an existing customer. They first service HR, accounting or another stakeholder group and learn how best to service them. Based on the depth of understanding of industry or function they get from serving that stakeholder group, they are more credible in the open marketplace than their competitors. By growing fast and broadly in their existing client base, they build a richness of how to service clients and what each client’s real issues are. And they build real stories that make them much more credible. It’s that experience and credibility that make them special.
Cognizant also organizes its business around this methodology. For example, they put more people into their customer accounts than many other providers. Why? It’s their growth strategy:
- They have more people at the customer location to help outsell their competition.
- When they go to start a new mine, they can move in people who already know the customer rather than bringing in people from the outside.
- When they go to get a new logo outside their customer base, they are able to bring in people with direct experience. And they don’t violate the existing customer’s need for consistency because they have a surplus of people in the account. So the customer doesn’t lose key people; they lose one of three key people, not the one key person.
Our advice is that your company’s growth strategy should follow the Cognizant model. Deemphasize new logos and instead focus on growing business with existing accounts. As you build depth, experience and credibility from these experiences the new logos will be much easier. Besides being a proven strategy, the good news is that your cost of sales will be lower if you adopt this strategy.