The Guide to Growing Your Top Customers

Your current customers are the most profitable and have the highest potential for growth over new customers. Why? You already did all the work to acquire them. Now is the time to increase their lifetime value and here is how you do it.

No need for a marketing expert or big investment to create a program to help you grow. All you need is a bit of information, the help of your suppliers and the initiative to make more $$$$. Let’s get started!

Identify BIG Spenders: Take a look at all of your customers and select the top 10% of customers based on how much $business$ you do with them annually. These are the customers that place the largest and/or the most volume of orders, let’s call them your VIP customers. VIP customers are the ones you have the most potential to grow and giving them the “Special Treatment” is what will push them to the next level of sales with you.

Top 10% of your customers are your VIPs.

Use the resources you have to get to know your VIPs.


What do they order?

  • What have they ordered in the past?
  • Have they placed orders for a specific product in a particular category?
  • Is there a category they avoid?
  • Are they comfortable with what they have been ordering?
  • Are they mavericks who are looking for something new every time?

When do they order?

  • How often do they place orders?
  • Are there trends to their order history?
  • Is their ordering tied to an event or event calendar?
  • When do they place their largest orders?
  • Do they place reorders? If yes, how often? If no, why not?


Many customers are tied to a fiscal calendar which may not run on a traditional calendar schedule. Knowing when their budget needs to be wrapped up by can be a great way to see when they might need to spend any unused funds.

Once the research is done, you are ready to formulate a plan of engagement. Know that you are not alone. Your suppliers are eager to help you grow your business.

Armed with the clients’ purchase history, you have become an expert on what they buy and when they usually buy it. Now make sure you have something special to offer them.


Talk to your supplier sales rep and see how the rep can help you grow your customers — samples, flyers, product images, and even exclusive deals can be worked out. You do not know if you do not ask!

Suppliers are your friends! Talk to your supplier partners and ask for help to grow your VIP customers — samples, flyers, product images, and even exclusive deals can be worked out. You do not know if you do not ask! Let them know what your goals and who your target VIPs are. The supplier may be able to offer you a special or give you special perks that may help you incentivize them.

Show and tell is always better than just tell. Be ready with a virtual and, even better, spec sample with the company’s branding. Most suppliers offer free virtuals and some suppliers offer free 3D virtuals. When it comes to spec samples there may be a small charge for one. For larger orders, the ones you are really going after, some suppliers may offer to apply the fee from the spec sample to the PO.

Suppliers are ready and willing to help you grow! If you have not done so already, find out who your supplier sales representative is and reach out. Building a relationship with them will help you both grow your sales. Just like you want to build your relationship with your clients, suppliers want to build a relationship with you!

You are an expert on your customer’s buying patterns. You know what products they have purchased and can assess what they would be interested in next or if they should be reminded about an upcoming reorder. You are also armed with enticing deals that you have worked out with the suppliers. You are ready!

  • Identified your VIPs target list
  • Identified the product or product type your VIP loves
  • Identified the best time to follow up (timing is incredibly important)
  • Reached out to the sales representative from the supplier partner to see what special offer they can give you
  • Requested a virtual. Virtuals are great to email to your customer when pitching a new product and to initiate reorders.
  • Invested in a spec sample. Spec samples are great for unexpected “drop-bys” and a give you a great reason to make the call when you mail it to them. Make sure to send it with delivery confirmation.

There are three basic methods easy to use to connect/reconnect. Starting from the most labor intensive to the easiest, not be mistaken for most-effective to least-effective. Choose the method you think your customer will respond to the most positively.

Option 1: Set up an office visit and bring your A-game. Make sure you have a kit of targeted samples and spec samples. Nothing beats putting the product in your clients’ hands, especially with their logo. A visit is a great way to strengthen your relationship, get a feel for what needs they have, what they are excited about, etc.


Remind customers that it is time to reorder. Send them a lighthearted email to remind them about the great product they ordered last year. Include the proofed artwork to jog their memory. Then, follow-up with a phone call and let them know about a special going on if they reorder.

Option 2:  Send a spec sample and follow-up with a phone call a day or two after it arrives. This tactic is excellent for both new product introductions and as a reminder that it is time to reorder. See where the conversation goes and entice them a special deal that you have worked out with the supplier.

Option 3: Send an email to touch base and make sure to include a virtual. It’s even better to send a 3D virtual. A 3D virtual is the next best thing to sending a spec sample. Make sure to follow-up with a phone call. If you have not experienced what a 3D virtual is, click here to check it out.

There are so many ways to grow your clients. These starter tips should help you focus on your VIPs and grow them organically. Working with your supplier partners will give you the edge to incentivize and provide special treatment to your VIP’s. You know your clients and making a plan to connect with purpose will lead to bigger and better sales.

Know your customers. Know your suppliers.  Grow your business and always ask for the order!