Download Gold In The HillsTHERE IS GOLD IN THOSE HILLS
By Linda Richardson
If you are like most salespeople, you feel that you know what your clients are doing, especially when the relationship is longstanding. But take a step back. Client needs and situations change so fast and so do your capabilities. Without checking in, you may be missing opportunities.
How satisfied are you that you have fully tapped into your current relationships to add value, identify opportunities, and expand the relationships?
· Have you specifically asked about changes and future needs?
· Do you know what business your competitors are doing with your clients?
· Have you asked about the client’s level of satisfaction with competitors — and how you compare?
· Have you asked for introductions to other divisions in your clients’ organizations?
· How confident are you that your clients and other divisions in your clients’ organizations know all the services you can provide?
· When is the last time you brought a senior or team member in?
Ask about changes and any new things that are going on. Do homework — i.e., how your client is performing in the marketplace. Prepare your questions. Preface your questions with reason and benefits, such as by saying, “I want to be sure I am up-to-date on things that are happening, and our capabilities are changing, too, so I’d like to step back to understand …?”
Don’t leave a stone unturned. Don’t make assumptions. If the client is using a competitor’s service, probe to understand the service and ask how it is going and what the client likes and what the client would change, etc. Ask specific questions about where you feel you might be able to add value. Ask about other divisions, decision makers: “Because we have … (benefit) May I ask who handles …?” or, “I know X at your company handles … I’d very much appreciate an introduction to him/her because we … to …” or, “May I ask you to make an introduction to …?” (If yes — get as much information as possible from your contact before the meeting.)
Ask for action steps. As you identify an area in your client’s area or other areas within the organization, set the next step to move forward. For example, “I’d like to review with you our … to show the benefits of … bring in …”
To grow a relationship, you must analyze where you are, proactively test your assumptions, and probe, probe, probe. Any sales call can be barren or it can be rich with opportunity. It is up to you — how prepared you are and the questions you ask.
There are likely opportunities for you to truly add value and expand the relationship — if you look for them. A good place to start to add value is to ask yourself about your client’s needs and the needs of his/her industry and competitors and then have a new “get to know you” conversation with your client. Then ask yourself what products or services your client might use that you are not providing.
Current relationships are a tremendous source of new business. These clients know you and trust you. If asked, they can coach you in identifying and winning more business if you initiate the dialogue.
Identify one relationship in which you think there is potential to expand. At your next meeting, tork up the questions you ask. Carve out time in the agenda to probe what is going on and what the priorities are for the client him/herself and the broader organization.