Sales people are problem solvers. That is how we create opportunities and win business from our competitors.
If a client had a great relationship with their existing vendor or service provider, a “prospective client” would not be a “prospective client.” That’s why you need to be keenly aware of any client issues before they become problems – and before they consider moving their business down the street.
Our organization is currently going through this exact scenario with of one of our longest standing service providers due to minor issues becoming major problems due to lack of awareness. These problems could have been eliminated if our provider used the following proactive steps:
1. Hold Regular Meetings
Many times relationships can get comfortable. When you work with a client for years, meetings tend to get pushed off. The relationship is taken for granted and put on autopilot. Then issues that would be minor hurdles instead become relationship enders.
2. Never Assume
When you have your regular meetings don’t assume things are great. You know what happens when you assume right? (it makes an Ass out of U and Me) To make sure you are bringing value to your clients you need to continue to ask them questions to make sure your interests are aligned.
3. Ask Tough Questions
When talking with your client, don’t be afraid to ask the “tough questions.” Look for the answers you don’t want to here so you bring problems out into the open before they become game-changers. This not only addresses the elephant in the room, it also builds credibility with your client as it demonstrates that you want to make things right.
4. Be Vulnerable
No one is perfect. It is tough to admit that when you or your organization has made a mistake. Many organizations pass the buck when it comes to owning mistakes and weaknesses. Admitting when you have made a mistake or recognizing some of your shortcomings brings a human element that people can connect to. This often reduces the severity of the issues and allows both parties to start concentrating on resolutions.
5. Create a Game Plan to Resolve the Issues…. And Stick to it!
While working on resolutions build a game plan with action items, who is responsible for it and when it is due. This will give your client confidence that you are going to resolve these issues and when they can expect things to be completed by. Once this game plan is in place execute on it and keep your client posted on milestones along the way.
Here’s to a proactive 2014!