One good conversation can shift the direction of change forever"- Linda Lambert
I was speaking with a good friend yesterday, which inspired this post. He has been a key account manager for a number of years and is very successful.
We started speaking about current clients and recent conversations. He began speaking about one of his large accounts, that he had had a great conversation with. Six weeks later he ended up doing a lot of business with them. Then two weeks later he noticed they had taken on another supplier similar to his doing other work that was 2-3X more in sales opportunities. He was clearly confused and disappointed that the client hadn’t raised this in their meetings.
The first question I asked him shocked him. It was this.
“In your meeting were you looking for opportunities to meet target or solutions to build a relationship that could generate massive results for you, your client and your company later?”
Was I being a bit difficult - probably :)
The honest answer was…he was looking for opportunities. He knew they had the best solution and he had targets to meet. I don’t share this to say he is wrong. It’s this exact point where the conflict arises. What became immediately clear to me was he simply needed to extend the conversation. It’s usually at the point of coming to agreement that mentally a client says, “We’ve done that now. Next”. That’s the time to extend the conversation.
As sales people we’re responsible for the month to month and quarter to quarter. It can be hard to see past the current sale we’re trying to make. We’ve got bills to pay and families to feed, just like everyone else.
We’re told in sales to close and get out. Wrong! We need to close and stay closer. We can sometimes forget that just by showing up we already have competitive advantage. Your competitors aren’t there and don’t have the access to the people you’re speaking with.
Doesn’t it burn a little when you discover your client has
- Gone with another provider for services you provide (they may not have known you do it or simply didn’t think your offering was best)?
- Haven’t recommended you for other work in different parts of the business when you work internationally?
- Gone to RFP and you weren’t invited?
And the list goes on….
If there is one revelation that I’ve learned and has stuck with me it is that very few client purchases are unplanned they’re simply undiscovered by the sales person.
How do we avoid missing the opportunities in front of us to deepen the relationships with our clients, uncover all relevant opportunities, known and those unknown to our clients?
Here are 5 thoughts for ensuring you never miss opportunities
- Get to know the people important to your contacts (you need more of the right relationships to know whats happening and keep front of mind)
- Extend the conversation on every conversation (simply ask “what else is important or will be important to you 3-6 months from now?”)
- Review the impact of your solution (Is it relevant to challenges they have today?)
- Re-on-board and re-educate on the wider services, applications and uses of your service or product to your client
- Never assume you know
This is a wide and rich topic. On Monday I’ll be exploring why more of the right relationships matter to growing fast.
Let me know your thoughts on what I’ve written.
Have you experienced the frustration of missing out on work with your client that you know you could’ve done a great job on?