NOT Blowing Your Customer Interactions
It’s only February and I’ve already had four requests this year to teach and run my workshop titled “Leveraging Client Relationships”. The issues today are no different than they were five, ten or even 20 years ago in the B2B selling arena: sellers who provide the highest value are those who attain the highest levels of trust with key clients. Trust is what's needed for the opportunity to apply selling leverage. There’s no secret sauce here: provide value at every turn…and then apply more value at the next turn. Sales 101, right?
“But, but, but…” (I can hear my workshop attendees counter…) “…buyers don’t want to see me”.
My response to that assertion is always the same: “If they don’t want to see you, it’s because you haven’t given them a good reason to be seen!”
This conversation I’m having with more frequency is real and urgent, and takes me back to a time when I served as lead sales dude for a company that had a couple sellers who regularly got invited to their client’s corporate private affairs. They were “in” as tight as that! If you’re getting invited to your buyer’s parties, you’ve not only cracked the code on “access”, you’re hearing secrets and getting inside scoop that can only lead to good things.
Or maybe not.
...I learned I have to ask myself two questions when I think about my accounts: 'what can I help them with?' and 'what specifically does my help look like?'"
I started to closely watch sales progress for both reps against their “in” accounts and noticed over a few months that “Rep 1” was lagging in her rev growth versus the performance “Rep 2” was achieving. Obviously, the variable to sales growth was broader than “access”. What was Rep 2 doing that was so different than Rep 1?
After a bit of time, I sat down with both reps individually to talk about how they each specifically worked their key accounts; I vividly remember the conversation with Rep 2. (I’ll give up her name if you call me, otherwise let's continue.)
I asked, “You seem to be getting a ton of traction on your XYZ account…what’s going on?” She replied, “Early on there was a perfect storm of opportunities to help them out in a big way, well I did, and in so doing it made a few of them look really good internally. It cascaded from there.”
“So, it sounds like you figured out how to provide an immense amount of value for the account, and for each of them personally?” I replied. (Ok, I know that sounds canned but I remember saying something along those lines…work with me.)
“Yeah, because of that I learned to ask myself two questions when I think about my accounts…whether it’s before a sales call, presenting a proposal, or merely all the time. I ask, ‘what can I help them with?’ and ‘what specifically does that help look like?’” she continued. “If I can’t answer those questions, I need to keep probing until I get the answers I need to provide real value.”
Ahhhh, the art of presenting value. Well, I admit two people learned from that situation. First, the now infamous “Rep #2” learned the value of serving personal agendas of buyers in addition to addressing “pressing business needs” for her top account. Her “ultimate access” to key players meant her future on that account was golden. And because I saw her learn that lesson on her own, I myself learned I had to teach all my sellers the specifics on what it means to present value to customers. Over more years and more experience, my approach has become highly polished and detailed to include the elements that require the right preparation before customer interactions, and, the highly sophisticated behaviors and actions needed to run a “high value meeting”.
And thus, you now have two of the five key elements I teach on managing customer interactions: “serving personal agendas”, and of course, the cliché but germane “providing value”. Yes, “providing value” is generic, so rest assured my workshop covers the dexterous skills and behaviors required by sellers to produce maximum interaction value. That will get your team to the point where you can…wait for it… LEVERAGE CLIENT RELATIONSHIPS. But if you and your team aren’t building trust when you’re in front of your customers, hang it up and join the circus!
Meeting with a customer is not a right, but a privilege. If your sellers are not expertly managing their customer interactions, then you’re experiencing “sales cycle risk”, reinforced by your CRM data, no doubt. Gimme a call (917 207 5183) and we can chat about the “Leveraging Client Relationships” workshop I teach!
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