Three strategic areas that will play a key role in determining whether your sales will thrive or only survive in this changing economy.
These come from John Graham, who has 35 years’ experience in sales consulting during good times and bad:
- Count more on your reputation and less on your relationships. Today’s faithful customer may be somewhere else tomorrow, retired or may no longer be in a position to help. You may find yourself dealing with new managers, gatekeepers or voice mail. Many companies now use a group process in their purchasing decisions. Having a great relationship with one of the team members may not be enough. That’s when your reputation will support your sales proposal.
- Share all you know. One of the best ways to differentiate yourself from the competition is to be free with your expertise. Unless the prospect can understand and appreciate your expertise, choosing a vendor becomes a matter of price. The goal is to have the prospect come to recognize and value your role as an expert. It can only occur if you openly share your knowledge.
- Pay special attention to new accounts. When you first win an account, there’s usually consensus on what needs to be done and how to do it. That may result in some quick, early wins. The customer is pleased at the rapid progress. Expectations and enthusiasm run high. That’s the most dangerous time in a new account relationship. Studies show that customers expect bumps in the road at the beginning of a relationship, followed by steady improvement. But progress may slow after a fast start, usually because you and your customer tackle tougher issues. You may have to retool your solutions.
John R. Graham is president of Graham Communications, a marketing services and sales consulting firm founded in 1976. Mr. Graham can be contacted at 40 Oval Road, Quincy, MA 02170 (617/328-0069).