I was recently sent an email by an experienced account manager named David who attended one of my customer growth workshops. He was very interested in taking his skills forward and had seen results from the training we did together. Naturally I was pleased and wanted to know how I could help.
He mentioned something that got my attention. He said he has one customer who literally avoids his calls and seems very disengaged when they do speak. He looks after 5 major customers and this is an important one and he doesn't know where to go next.
We set up a call and the first thing I wanted to do was to determine the difference between the relationships he had with the other 4 customers compared to this challenging one.
What was he doing differently with the other 4 accounts compared to this one account? How long had he been working with them? How would he describe the relationship? Who is his best relationship with? When was the last survey or difficult conversation he had with them (very few people have a great answer for this)? After 20 min we had gone through more than 15 different questions together.
Result!- we identified 6 major triggers that may have contributed to the engagement he was having with his customer. When you see the 6 triggers below if you're honest you might even see yourself. Like many key account managers David had hit the 'blind seller zone' the place a number of experienced sales professionals get to when they become reliant on past success strategies, unable to hear what a customer is actually saying because they believe they've heard it already and become slow to adapt to changing circumstances.
Here are the six triggers that will erode your ability to get responsive and engaging customer conversations!
- Your conversations are generic and leave no thought provoking or insight bringing revelation to your customer.
- You know their buying cycle so well you simply call up to fish for opportunity and your client realises it.
- You haven't dealt with past negative experiences your customer may of had with other companies and/or account managers and you have triggered.
- You don't have a specific thought process for how you will engage with your customers on each call. E.g. Whenever you call it should be on the basis of four reasons. I call this VICK. Value - how to help them win, Insight - new perspective to things they hadn't considered that deepens the relationship, Challenge - how to improve what you're doing and Knowledge - getting to know your customer context, pains, desires and goals at a deeper level. There is more to say in these areas but it allows you to have a focus in your conversations helpful to you and your customer.
- You haven't focused enough on trust in the relationship. You may have credibility in the relationship of what you do but who are you to them still needs to be worked on.
- You haven't shown any care to the personal position or environment of your contact and their business. What is the context? what is the feeling? and what actions is this driving that is visible and invisible? If you can determine this demonstrating empathy you can help your customer at a much deeper level.
Your ability to become a master relationship builder is critical. Although you know its important you may not know how to make that a reality with all your customers. Good intentions don't help you to produce great results. This is not just about adapting to behavioural styles its about understanding people.
If you're interested in knowing how to increase your influence and begin the process to transform your own customer relationships get connected to my customer growth email series HERE. You can start the process of learning a new framework of thinking to growth. www.jermaineedwards.com
Founder of the Key Account Hack System - New Key Account thinking that transforms customer relationships and creates predictable sales growth.