What to do with your “Business” Leftovers?

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Picture by KThread via Flickr

After 3 or 4 days of creatively combining leftover turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing and other trimmings we often are left with the dilemma of should I make one more meal of this or toss it.   Whether or not you care to admit it, a similar scenario plays out in your business life as well; there are always “leftovers”…and the question is ‘what can you make of them?’.

If you ask any company to list their top 5 or 10 customers, most can rattle them off without even thinking.   They are the cream of the crop, the 20% generating 80% of the revenue.  The ones you can’t wait to serve and look forward to all the great things you are going to do with them as both your business and their businesses grow.   Everyone at your company knows the importance of these accounts and they may even receive preferential treatment when they call.   They are the ones that have your private phone numbers and your personal email addresses.   If there was royalty in business, you would crown them.

The Leftovers…

But those aren’t your only customers.  The “leftovers” remain.   They’re the ones you don’t have as much time for.  Some have potential, but you never have been able to grow their accounts.  Some are not easy to reach so you put less effort into building the relationship.   And a lot of them simply are using a competitor for the bulk of their needs, giving you little or no business, and you don’t see the point in wasting your limited time chasing a dead end.   But they are your customers and any of them could one day potentially be one of those top customers.

A recipe…

In the same way a seasoned chef (or an aspiring chef) can create a great casserole out of the leftovers from a Thanksgiving dinner, your leftover clients and prospects may have the potential to become something significant for your business as well. The issue is how do you manage them, stay in contact with them, and let them know you are thinking about them?   Thanks to technology the challenge in doing this has gotten a whole lot easier.

Here’s 5 simple ways to make your business leftovers part of a future main course.

1)      Newsletter:  If you have a newsletter, make sure they are on the distribution email list (with permission)  Tip: A newsletter should have an education focus rather than a selling focus.

2)      Blog:  Again, focus on education, distribute via social media outlets.  Message is typically more targeted and overall length should be under 600 words.

3)      Consistency:  Any strategy for creating touch points: Email, Newsletter, US Mail, phone calls, etc. should have a level of consistency.   Blogging regularly 1X/month is better than packing a week full of daily posts followed by 3 weeks off. (Even better is posting once a week like clockwork…).

4)      Send them some business.   If you have never read The Go-Giver,  put it on your Christmas list or better yet, buy it for yourself now and give a few copies as gifts this year.   “It is in giving that we receive”  – St. Francis of Assisi

5)      Expect nothing in return.  This can be the hardest thing to do in our instant gratification world.  This doesn’t mean you don’t ask for orders or wait for them to always make the first move.  It means you stay the course…every No is usually one No closer to a Yes!

If you have any successes you would like to share about how you handle the “leftovers” in your business, share them here, we are always open to new suggestions or ideas.  And certainly if you have a favorite Thanksgiving leftover recipe please share that as well – I am sure other Aspiring Chefs would love to give it a try!

Chris Steinlage Kansas City Business Coach