Are Your Salespeople Professional Visitors?
Are you bringing value or a professional visitor?
Are your salespeople professional visitors? Last week, I sat down with Jacob, a friend who is a sales rep at an ink and toner supply store. We were exchanging the usual “So, how is the family…how is business?” when Jacob started to look troubled. “You know, Greta, I thought business was going great,” he said. “My sales have been through the roof, and I have more clients than I know what to do with. There is just one thing that has been bothering me the past few weeks.” “What is that?” I asked. “Well, I was reviewing my order totals for the quarter when I saw that my biggest client, ABC Graphics, had ordered only half as much toner in June as it did in May. I was not too surprised. Many of our clients have a slow month here or there. I figured things would pick up. Well, at the end of the next month, not only had ABC Graphics not gone back to its regular toner, they barely ordered.”
What have you done for me lately?
Listening intently, I asked, “So tell me something, Jacob. When you recently visited your contact at ABC Graphics, how did it go?” “Well, to be honest, the last time I followed up with them was at the end of last year,” Jacob replied. “I told you we have been crazy—I mean busy—and besides I didn’t have anything new for him, they just want to order and not have us bother them.” Bother them! So why was Jacob rapidly losing ground on his biggest account? There are a few things going on here;
Listening is key
Just because someone is working with you, buying your products, using your services, that doesn’t mean you are secure in that account. It is not unusual for salespeople to feel secure with an existing account and use their time to go find another. I actually don’t even disagree that this is smart prospecting. Unfortunately one or the other alone will hurt your bottom line.
Because he did not stay in front of his client, and someone else moved in on his account. And if Jacob’s client perceives a visit as a “bother” then Jacob needs to analyze what he says and does while he’s there. One common characteristic we as salespeople have is the belief that “once a customer, always a customer.” Of course, as time goes on and good customer service does not, another salesperson sees your client as his prospect. So how can Jacob—or you—make it right?
No howdy calls
Making a howdy call is just what Jacob is doing. A howdy call is a ‘check-in”, a stop by, a ‘visit’, all of these are terms of how salespeople often approach their existing clients. Do you have existing clients? If so, here is the plan for every single call. When you go to see an existing client, plan one of these 3 goals for every call;
1) Learn something new – What do you want to learn? What are they thinking about? Google their industry, read up on what is happening, that is one way you can create a question. For example; I read that the Saas industry is going through a true change in the laws. How will these affect you?
2) Share something new – Do you have a new product or service you want to talk about? How about something you learned from someone else that might help them? Sharing something is important but make sure it is not ‘selling’ your stuff every time. For example; You told me you guys really needed a solution for _________. I want to share this with you that I think might fix that.
3) Meet someone new – Salespeople often get comfortable with one person at a client’s office. Every time they visit, they go right to this person. Great, they like you. OK but who else do you know? What happens if your contact leaves? For example; John, can you do me a favor today, I have never actually met Sarah in the executive suite, while I’m here can you introduce me?
Setting one of these goals for every client meeting will keep you abreast of what is going on as well as being a value to that organization.
What can I do for you?
Sit down with your client list the first week of every month and think about each client individually. Then jot down something you can do for each person or company on the list. Take off your salesperson hat and really consider the well-being of your client. Think referrals, introductions, invitations to network with you…anything to make your client say, “Wow, he really does care about me.” Not only will you be helping out your clients, but you will also be keeping the line of communication open regarding your product or service. Then you can resolve their issue instead of your competition doing it…while getting their business. Rather than worrying about the other guy moving in on your clients, take some preventive measures to ensure you are keeping your clients happy. Remember the
“givers gain”* BNI philosophy: The more you give, the more you get in return. If you are always giving, you will never lose