Securing New Accounts Can Provide Many Opportunities For Growth

David G. Champagne

By David G. Champagne, Vice President & Founder of Beacon Distributors, Inc., Harrisville, RI

I have often described my position as a sales representative by using a word picture. I say, “In my work, I hold the funnel of sales in one hand, putting a finger in the bottom to slow or stop the outflow of customers and sales while using the other hand to put in new customers and sales in the top of the funnel.”

Losing customers is a part of sales. It frequently occurs as much as by your fault as by circumstances beyond your control:

  • A company closes – *A buyer’s friend or relative becomes a rep;
  • An account gets purchased – *A new buyer with previous connections;
  • A change in ownership;
  • A new competitor trying to buy into the market.

The goal is to minimize the number of lost accounts (finger up the bottom of the funnel) while adding as many as possible (into the top of the funnel).

How can you get new accounts? First thing is to accept that this is YOUR job! While some ownerships will do things to generate sales leads, not all will, and not all the time. You must constantly be on the watch for new opportunities.

The fastest way to gain new accounts is to start with the ones you have.

  • Do they have other operations or locations you can sell to?
  • Treat everyone in your accounts with respect and listen when they express a concern. It is often easier to advance one’s career by changing companies. You never know when an assistant becomes a manager at a prospect and you get a call asking for your help! People remember those who treat them well!
  • Are there different departments within the customer that purchase items you could supply? (Many reps think they “own” an account that they sell a few items to. Often there could be more sales that they aren’t even thinking about. The tool or supply room in a factory is an example).
  • Run a promotion where your customer gets a chance to win a prize (maybe dinner for two at a well-known restaurant) for every letter of reference or referral they give you over a period of time. Be SURE to follow up on each lead you receive. The referrals could be for someone in the same industry or for a neighboring business that they know.

Today many factory and independent reps are being pushed by their leadership to make more end-user calls. Help them do their job: give them the accounts and contacts and product of interest to follow up on.  It will help them and you! It’s like getting extra days of work for no added effort. In many cases the end-user may not want to give time to ANOTHER local rep, but will meet with a factory representative! Talk to your factory reps on getting any referrals generated by their advertising that are in your territory.

If you are particularly strong in a market, set up a booth at their trade show and meet similar potential customers. No one is selling to EVERY account in a market!

Give back to the community that has treated you so well. Get involved in the local chamber of commerce, a business referral group, or a charity. These are good ways to get to know people and people lead to referrals and referrals lead to new accounts!

Today, you don’t have to walk into a prospect with little, or no knowledge, of the account. There are:

  • Internet searches;
  • Local weekly newspapers have ads from a lot of businesses;
  • Subscribe to local business publications to find opportunities.

Always ask permission before using someone’s name and company as a referral, so you are sure they will not object if/when called on by your new prospect. Also, before giving a specific referral, ask the prospect if they know the account or person you are about to mention. If you get a negative reaction, switch gears, maybe using a different referral.

Securing new accounts is part of a successful sales rep’s work. Don’t wait for things to happen, MAKE it happen!

Beacon Distributors, Inc., founded in 1990, is based in Harrisville, RI. Our principal service area is a 50-mile radius from our location which takes in about 50 percent of the geography and 70 percent of the population of the Tristate area of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. We do have customers throughout the Northeast, and across the country. We offer a full jan/san selection of products as well as safety supplies and foodservice disposables. Working with our DPA partners, we are able to source virtually anything our customers want. Beacon is a full-service vendor for our customers, offering Vendor Managed Inventory, state-of-the-art online capabilities, equipment demos and service, dispenser installation, and end-user training. Visit

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