|You’ve just spent six months working on a very large and fiercely competitive opportunity. The deal went down to the wire, and in the end, the contract was awarded to your company. Now you can finally relax and move on to another opportunity. Right? NO, that is not right.
I say this is because once you are successful in getting your product or service sold and accepted, you now move from more of an offensive position to a defensive position. You just spent the last six months working your butt off to win the business. Now it is time to deliver, install and implement your offering. Regardless of the product or service, you must deliver on the promises of your agreement. And guess what? Any competitor worth his or her salt will be watching to see if you foul up. So you are now playing defense to prevent your competitor from taking the deal away. If you forget the simple fact that other competitors want your client’s business, and you take your eye off the ball, then there is a good chance you will be replaced.
The fact of the matter is, you don’t want all of your efforts to go for naught because of your lack of follow-through and poor account management skills. Too many times I have seen sales reps move on to their next big deal once a contract is signed. They feel their job is done once the sale is complete. Perhaps there is an installation team or a support system in place that is supposed to “take over” so that you, the professional sales rep, can focus on new business. Regardless, if you are being compensated and expect to continue to do business with this account in the future, you better be involved in the delivery of your proposal.
Remember, the client put his trust in you! And if the deal goes south for whatever reason, so will your commission.
Additionally, if you want to position your company for future business, it is in your best interest to stay involved to make certain your client is satisfied. As part of my research for my book I interviewed many decision-makers and C-level executives. One of the comments I hear regarding certain salespeople is that they only show up when there is a deal on the table. Is that how you want to be viewed? Plus, this is an excellent opportunity to solidify your business relationship with your account. By staying in close touch you gain additional trust and respect. You are no longer in a battle with a competitor for the business. Your client has no reason to play his cards close to his vest. He is now interested in the successful execution of the proposed solution. Both you and your client should now be on the same page.
During this critical period, take the necessary time to assure that the delivery is on time, the installation team is prepared and all commitments are fully delivered. Depending on the nature of your business, this may be an excellent time to uncover other opportunities for additional business. And since the basic transaction is complete, any add-ons typically will not have to go through the strict evaluation and negotiation process as the base deal. For example, there may be other components of your product offering that were not included in the original transaction. Once the installation and implementation is under way, opportunities to enhance the customer experience may surface. An additional feature that might add value or additional on-site support could be offered to ensure a successful implementation. The point is: Don’t go to sleep immediately following the signed contract. Take advantage of the transition from prospect to customer to keep the competitors out and enhance your relationship for future opportunities.
As a young salesman I missed many opportunities to grow business in certain accounts. I felt my responsibility was to sell new accounts, and the client would continue to do follow-on business without a lot of involvement from me. This was foolish on my part. As I matured in sales, I learned the value of account management. Additionally, I learned the importance of splitting time between new account opportunities and account management.
At the end of the day, if you lose existing accounts that you worked hard to secure, all because of a lack of focus and attention, shame on you!
UNIVERSAL SALES TRUTH #1
Surround yourself with successful people of integrity
The wise are glad to be instructed.