Too many salespeople miss out on retention, referrals, re-pricing because they’re not focused enough on delivering value once the sale is complete.

Over a century ago, Russell Conwell was famous for his travelling lecture, delivered more than 6000 times. What’s interesting about the lecture, is that Conwell was preaching customer-centricity over a century ago!

Let me share the parable at the centre of this lecture and how it applies to the development of your sales growth plan.

There was once a wealthy man named Ali Hafed who lived not far from the River Indus. “He was contented because he was wealthy, and wealthy because he was contented.” One day a priest visited Ali Hafed and told him about diamonds.

Ali Hafed heard all about diamonds, how much they were worth, and went to his bed that night a poor man. He had not lost anything, but he was poor because he was discontented, and discontented because he feared he was poor.


Ali Hafed sold his farm, left his family, and travelled to Palestine and then to Europe searching for diamonds. He did not find them. His health and his wealth failed him. Dejected, he cast himself into the sea.

One day, the man who had purchased Ali Hafed’s farm found a curious sparkling stone in a stream that cut through his land. It was a diamond. Digging produced more diamonds — acres of diamonds, in fact. This, according to the parable, was the discovery of the famed diamonds of Golconda.

The point of the story is that we often dream of fortunes to be made elsewhere. We ought instead to be open to the opportunities that are around us. And so often I talk to and coach dejected and worn out salespeople that have looked everywhere for new business except their own backyard!

Until you’re confident that you have genuinely mined for all the opportunity in partnering more effectively with your existing customers it just doesn’t make sense to be cold calling and spending hours on LinkedIn trying to build your brand and create inbound leads.

If you generate ongoing revenue as a result of the relationship and value, you deliver to existing customers you should first consider retention. There’s always a need to balance out the ongoing service delivered with the ongoing revenue. BUT in my experience, too many salespeople miss out on retention, referrals, re-pricing as delivery gets more expensive and taking care of more customer needs, because they’re not focused enough on delivering value once the sale is complete.

The point is, take a little bit of time out to consider what the opportunities are inside your existing customers.

If retention is important, consider ranking all your customers from highest retention risk to lowest.

Consider whether there are re-pricing opportunities across your portfolio of customers. So often when I coach salespeople, their portfolio of clients is full of people or businesses that promised growth in volume for lower pricing but never delivered on their side of the bargain. Even if you can’t achieve upward re-pricing, you may be able to negotiate referrals for maintaining the discounted pricing.

Consider whether there’s an opportunity to take care of more needs for your customers. This doesn’t have to be just about cross-selling other solutions you sell. You may be able to partner up with someone in an aligned business and do mutual referrals. As an example, if you’re a lawyer, you could introduce your clients to an Accountant, Real Estate Agent or Banker on the basis that they reciprocate.

And consider whether there’s an opportunity to grow within the client. This isn’t just about big enterprise customers with lots of divisions. If you take care of my personal mortgage, there’s an opportunity to grow within my extended family. If you take care of a property developer there’s an opportunity to grow within their network of suppliers and that includes builders, architects, plumbers and a host of other companies and people.

If you don’t have existing customers or you don’t earn ongoing revenue from existing customers—that’s ok.

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Dean Mannix
Dean Mannix has delivered sales performance projects in over 25 countries and is recognised as one of Australia’s leading sales performance coaches. In 2007, he co-founded SalesITV and pioneered online video based 70:20:10 learning and social coaching programs in Australia. He is a leading authority on blended approaches to learning, performance and coaching for salespeople and sales leaders. Over the past two decades Dean has worked globally with a diverse range of clients including Goldman Sachs, Westpac, Oracle, Canon, News Corp, Commbank, Macquarie Bank, Fairfax, Meridian Energy, Westpac, Nomura Securities, Deutsche Bank, BT Financial Group, NAB, Suncorp, Bank of Queensland and the Boston Consulting Group. Dean holds a Law Degree from QUT, an Executive MBA from the AGSM, is an international best-seller and is also a qualified Yoga teacher.