Editor’s Note: In the following blogs, author and speaker Dave Kahle provides a handful of situations reps can walk through to better understand of the principles and processes you’ll need in order to develop effective account strategies.
What about the situation in which you have met with a prospect and there is an opportunity. What do you do now? What’s the next step?
Try to turn every opportunity presented to you into two steps, particularly when you are new and meeting people for the first time. For example, they may say something like this, “Yes. We’re interested in your blue widgets; there is a possibility of doing some blue widget business here.”
At that point you can say, “OK. Well, my blue widgets are ten dollars a dozen. Do you want some?” You could present your solution and ask them to buy some.
I believe it is more effective in the long run to turn this opportunity into two sales calls. Don’t just immediately say, “Well, here’s our deal” and hope to close it then. I’d rather you create an opportunity to get back into this account two times. The first time you’ll dig deeper to understand their situation deeper. The second time you’ll present your best proposal.
So, I’d rather you say, “Ok. What I’d like to do is come back next week and talk with the people who are actually using the blue widgets and gain a better idea of that application, then after I do that I’ll come back and present our widget solution.
Why would you do that? That doesn’t sound very efficient. No, it’s not efficient, but it’s effective. Remember, you are in this for the long-term. You are building relationships. You are gaining trust. You are understanding the customer. If you can take this opportunity that they have presented to you, and turn it into an opportunity to meet more people, to understand this prospect deeper, and then to make a sharper, more focused, more perfectly matched proposal, in the long-term you’re going to be much better off. You’re going to have broadened and deepened your relationship in the account.
Consider, also the concept of an enticer. What’s an enticer? An enticer is a small purchase, an easy thing for your customer to buy that opens the door for you in that account. Once you have something that the account buys from you, you can take advantage of that relationship that you’re building to expand to other types of business. Here’s an example. I was working with a client company that repaired and serviced computer hardware. They really were not interested in you bringing a broken monitor to them to fix. What they really wanted to do was come into your business and write a service contract to maintain all of your equipment.
From the customer’s perspective, that’s a big risk and a substantial amount of money. Most people, on the basis of one sales call, were not really interested in giving that much responsibility to a company that they did not know that well. Understanding that, rather than ask for that contract initially, we created an enticer.
Remember, an enticer is an offer that is easy to say yes to, and that opens the door and gives you an opportunity to expand the business. The enticer we developed was this. When the salesperson offered their preventative maintenance service contract they would also say something like this, “Now I realize that you may not be ready for this big purchase, so what we’d like to do is just find some way that you can get to know us and we can get to know you a little better. Here’s a coupon for 50 percent off the repair charge for your next piece of equipment. Anytime anything in here needs to be repaired, you can take this coupon and give it to us and we’ll repair it for half of our normal cost. We’re losing money on that, you understand that, but we’re investing in you, the customer, and we think that if you will do this little piece of business with us, you’ll get to know us and we’ll get to know you, and then we’ll have an opportunity to go further.” They presented it just like that. It was an enticer — an opportunity to come back in and re-establish and build the relationship.
The idea is if you get them buying something, it gives you a reason to be there and an opportunity to expand the business.
You may recognize an underlying strategy at work here. It is that you use every opportunity to expand the relationship, to know more people, to ingrain yourself deeper in every account. The two strategies we discussed, using an opportunity to expand the relationship and developing and enticer, are both variations on this core approach.
Dave Kahle has trained tens of thousands of B2B salespeople, sales managers and business owners to be more effective in the 21st Century economy. He’s authored nine books, and presented in 47 states and seven countries. To access Dave’s training, insights and tools online, visit The Sales Resource Center. Visit www.davekahle.com to check out a seminar near you