Happy New Year! This is the time of year where we think about what we are going to do better. Whether it’s going to gym or other self-improvement exercises, we start with the best intentions, then as time passes, so does our resolve. In our businesses, we know that we should do better with our clients but as the year unfolds, and pressure to produce numbers mount, often client focus diminishes.
I’m often asked about how sales people can do a better job differentiating themselves with clients. That’s a more difficult question than it sounds. How well do they know and understand their clients’ and prospects’ respective businesses? Do they take the time to prepare THOROUGHLY for their meetings? Are they aware of the drivers of the decision maker(s)? Are they asking the right questions? Are they offering value and insight? These are just a few of the questions that come to mind.
Many sales people do what they consider enough to get by. When asked the questions above, I’d often hear positive responses from the sales managers and team – until I ask what their clients think. The response is usually that they don’t know. Why not check in with them? Afraid to hear bad news? Better to hear it and have the chance to address the issue.
I have had conversations with senior executives about a disconnect that seems to be prevalent with some sales people and their clients. That is, they seem to have everything lined up correctly – attitude, prep work, knowledge and likeability. Yet, they don’t get as much business as some others. A possible cause is the lack of authenticity. Did you ever get that bad feeling when dealing with someone who is clearly focused on selling something to you? The act, the change in voice, the aggressiveness…. It doesn’t feel like they really care about you and it leaves a very negative gut reaction. I remember watching two leaders deliver some training material. One was very good – knew the material cold, understood the audience, but the feedback wasn’t as good for him as the other. Why? The other was more real in how she interacted with the group. The audience didn’t feel like they were being manipulated into something. Sales managers, this is another reason why you MUST do calls with your team. Your clients and prospects will pick up on this! Put yourself in their shoes, on the receiving end of a contrived pitch! Be authentic!
The New Year presents an opportunity for us to raise our game with our clients. If you’re not reaching out to your clients to check in, rest assured your competition is. If you’re not doing the prep work to fully understand their businesses, rest assured your competition is. If you’re too focused internally, you’re losing an opportunity to engage with your clients. You don’t want to be that person who goes to the gym only for the first week of January then quits do you? Your clients need you the rest of the year – help them understand that… Here’s to a prosperous 2017!