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 user 2004-01-10 at 10:31:00 am Views: 49
  • #4603
    Selling in 2004: Who Moved My Customer?
     Are things really different for salespeople in 2004? You betcha!

    Buying Committees and task forces are lengthening the sales process. Corporate realignment and restructure make the decision maker a moving target. Cost containment measures are adding layers to the sales cycle. Clearly, you have to work harder and smarter to be successful in this today’s selling environment. The order-taking days of the 90′s are over and don’t count on their return any time soon.

    It’s easy to blame the economy, the never-ending war, or the fall of corporate behemoths and unethical executives for our revenue woes. But enough is enough. If you want a life dedicated to sales, it’s time to get back on track – and now. You might be saying, “What can I do differently? I’m just trying to survive and generate enough revenue to keep my job and my home. And that’s nearly impossible!”

    There’s only one place to find the answers. Over the last three years, most companies have been solely inwardly focused in an effort to make the changes necessary to survive. As a result, they’ve taken their eye off of the only resource that can help them do it – and that’s their customer. The key to successful selling today and beyond is to understand how the critical needs of your customer have changed and to align your value to their growth and business objectives. Don’t think that they’ve changed? Then you might as well ask your competition in for coffee.

    Why focus on the customer? Why not go for new prospects for incremental business? Simple.

  • 1. The cost of recovering a lost customer is exponentially higher than keeping a current customer happy.
  • 2. Think of your investment. You’ve already been through the sales cycle!
  • 3. Customers don’t have to be sold. If you have new products, upgrades or services – your customer base is the path of least resistance to incremental revenue.
  • 4. Customers talk. Referrals and testimonials are the single greatest catalysts to closing new customers.
  • 5. Your customer could be your future employer. Don’t laugh – I can’t tell you the number of times that great salespeople have been recruited over to happy customers. Treat every interaction like you would an interview.

    So, all of that makes sense. “What do I do next?” you might ask. Rank your customers in order of impact on your livelihood. In other words, if you lost number 1, it would significantly impact your company and your wallet. Schedule face-to-face calls with the top 20%, or if that’s not economically feasible, schedule a conference call meeting with the appropriate contacts. Do your homework prior to the meeting: revenue history with your company, recent press, and website familiarity. Remember, you are a partner and know their business. During your meeting, ask the following questions:

  • 1. What new challenges are you facing due to today’s volatility?
  • 2. What changes have you made internally to react to these challenges and poise you for survival and growth?
  • 3. What are the hurdles that you have encountered with these changes and how have they impeded your ability to succeed?
  • 4. How are these obstacles impacting you personally? Or what is keeping you up at night?
  • 5. What can I change about the way we do business together that will help to alleviate this pain?

    The answers to these questions will give you the ability to build a roadmap for future business and provide the ammunition to keep your competition at bay. Isn’t it worth it?