skip to main content
Strategy: Maximize Your Current Customers

Strategy: Maximize Your Current Customers

American businesses are among the best run in the world, but Fortune 1000 leaders still haven't mastered organic growth. They talk a good game about growing their customer base, but then they go back to their offices, shut their doors, and either acquire competitors or -- worse yet -- cut their prices even further. They do this because they've given up on organic growth.

This is all wrong. You don't achieve organic growth through acquisitions or price cutting. You achieve growth by creating many more fully engaged customers -- "true believers" in your business.

And you achieve the highest quality growth by getting a lot more business out of your existing customers. Here is a general rule of thumb for you and your strategy teams. Right now, you're probably doing a maximum of one-third of the business you should be doing with current customers. This means that if you're doing $2 million in sales, there's an additional $4 million in low-hanging fruit with your current customers, just waiting to be picked. Same if you're doing $20 billion in sales -- there's $40 billion of untapped business to be found in your current accounts. So why go out and acquire another company when you can more fully engage what's right in front of you?

The reason acquisitions don't ultimately produce organic growth is that money can't buy the emotional relationship that creates a fully engaged customer. You can't "acquire" true believers.

Let me put some numbers to this. Gallup research has found that customers who are fully engaged represent an average 23% premium in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue, and relationship growth over the average customer. Here's another one: Companies that engage both their employees and customers gain a 240% boost in performance-related business outcomes. Those companies understand the essential role of human nature in driving performance, especially those critical moments when engaged employees and engaged customers interact.

Before you go to your next strategy meeting, read our just-released State of the American Consumer report, and then ask your team, "What percent of our customer base is fully engaged right now? How many of our customers are true believers? And what, exactly, do we have to do to double those customers?" When, and if, you double your fully engaged customers -- your true believers -- you will not only boom organic growth and your stock price, you will have transformed the very character of your company.


Jim Clifton is Chairman of Gallup.

Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030