I think we've all had experiences of great customers like this. They are very accommodating, answer your emails, respond to meeting requests, don't cancel meetings last minute. Sales persons dream right?
Yes and No. You see the challenge with really nice customers is that a number of them tend not to take action. When it comes to that proposal you sent, them speaking with the right people internally to sign something off. Procrastination and in action takes place. Nothing seems to move. The worse thing you can do is go over their head. You then get a Dr Jekyll and Hyde moment.
This can be one of the most frustrating situations to be in. You can deal with a hard customer who wants to be convinced to act, you can deal with a customer that wants to get results. But, a customer who is really nice can immediately recoil with any feeling of pressure into the hole of uncertainty. These tend to be some of the most challenging customers that many key account managers and account managers experience.
What do you do with clients like that? I'm sure you'll have approaches you've learnt to use to best support and move those customers. Let me share three more ideas that might help you even more and help those who may still struggle with this type of customer.
Take the pressure off you and them
One of the big things we really have to resist as sales professionals is the temptation to add pressure when we're frustrated with inaction from our customers. Often when we do it's not considered, too emotionally driven and isn't joint goal focused. It tends to be about you. I get it. If you're under pressure for sales and things are moving slower than expected you can feel the push from managers, team pressures, commission and you name it. You'll never be your most persuasive if pressure leads you to react rather than respond to a clearly defined strategy and tactic for communicating with your customer.
Start with taking negative reactive pressure off. When you feel the pressure to push take a step back and write down your thoughts. In fact I have a great questions sheet around this i'd love to give you in these moments that every subscriber gets when they join my newsletter. Here are two very powerful questions you might ask yourself today in those moments:
- What answers don't I have from my client today that would help me take the right action?
- Have I really determined the extent of their commitment? how do I know? and what is the best way to verify this?
Make it collaborative
One of the biggest revelations I've had when thinking about any relationship is making the expectation of collaboration a must. Collaboration means you get joint ownership of success. But, you need to be prepared to carry the majority of that risk so that you take risk for your client off the table. You may want to check out my blog on the challenge of risk to sales growth HERE which will be a helpful supplement to this blog. Collaboration is huge but it means setting up the expectation of how you work with your customers right from the beginning. How can you apply this?
Whenever you get to the cross roads of decision only allocate the action that requires the least amount of risk to your customer to begin with. Agree what you'll do to ensure you're moving together towards a defined goal. This allows for momentum to happen and when it does you're more likely to get consistent action.
Make it incremental and sign post those most important goals
Being incremental for any type of customer can significantly increase your chance for moving inactive customers. More importantly sign posting helps make the route to success clearer for you and your customer. If anything seems vague, or your client is unsure, even if they know you, it's unlikely to move as quickly as you'd want. What could you do today?
Write out the actions you want your customer to take that will move you opportunity to a close. Take 5 min and at each action ask "which one of these actions could I take on?" and then based on the last point ask "which one of these actions would potentially create the most internal risk for your customer?".
Once you've identified this set up a call with your client where possible. Send an email to your client with an agenda that includes those specific actions you need to take. On the call go slowly through each one and troubleshoot every possible block to getting those things done. Once you have worked out that information with your customer they'll feel more confident and you'll have a much stronger chance of moving them to action.
Let me know what you think of these ideas? What have you applied with your customers who are perhaps too nice and difficult to get decisions from?
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Look forward to helping you get more from your key customer relationships this year.
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