Strengthening your relationship with your existing customer base is one of the best ways to increase sales. Your company's account management and operating teams play critical roles in making this happen. If they're not performing at their peak, the door opens for competitors to step in.

Seeking new sales without strong account management and operating teams is like pouring water into a bucket with a hole in it. Identifying and fixing the holes — the gaps in customer satisfaction — can help your company retain existing accounts and increase new sales.

Research from the AskForensics Knowledgebase reveals that there are four gaps business-to-business companies need to address to achieve best-in-class performance. These gaps were identified through in-depth, qualitative sales and account forensics interviews with prospect decision makers in accounts generating at least $15 million in contract revenue for Fortune 1000 companies:

Improve Training for Frontline Staff

Employees who have daily interaction with customers often leave more of an impression than your sales team. As a result, your frontline teams are vital to expanding and retaining existing customers. These teams need to be trained in client protocol and procedures, your company's internal processes, and how to effectively interact with on-site client stakeholders.

Provide Timely Responses

Being responsive to your customers' concerns is a clear indicator of your company's desire to meet and exceed expectations. If there are deficiencies in how effectively and quickly you respond, your customers will question your commitment.

This is true at all levels of your company, not just for the teams in direct contact with customers. Being responsive, though, is only part of the equation. The other is to communicate what has been done to address the customer's need or problem.

Offer More Proactive Ideas

As a service or product supplier, customers look to you as the expert. They rely on you to perform important tasks they cannot do themselves. This places more emphasis on you, as the provider, to be proactive. When you are not proactive, value erodes.

Understand Requirements

This is account management 101, right? Well, it doesn't always happen. In every account there are needs that are not being adequately addressed. Even if they are peripheral needs, not addressing them leaves you vulnerable.

When attempting to generate a sustained increase in sales, the first place to start is with existing customers. Your selling investment is lower, you have an existing relationship, and you can leverage your efforts from other services and products you already have in place with your customer. This all works to your advantage if you are delivering best-in-class support. If you are not at this level, take the steps necessary to close the gaps.