When sellers focus only on working toward closing an active opportunity, they miss so much of what great companies have thrived on with respect to long-term, mutually-beneficial relationships with their customers.
The world’s top-performing salespeople and account managers know that engaging, winning, and growing with their customers is the way to sustainable success for them and those customers. So they engage with customers before, during, and after the sale, not just when there is an immediate and active deal on the table.
Engage: Before the Sale
In today’s society data are available everywhere and companies can identify and capture customer’s knowledge easily before starting selling. We call this process becoming a student of your customer!
First step: Research the organization
Define what do you need to know about your customers. Start by asking yourself what are the characteristics of your buyer persona that are relevant with your business, product, industry. You need to understand what is your customer’s culture, industry, value proposition, customers, partners, competitors, drivers & objectives. Define as well where you can acquire and gather customer knowledge. Then test the effectiveness of your research on targeted prospects.
Second step: Explore the Possibilities
Work with your team too define what reason could push your customers to engage the dialogue with you. Is your product a solution for your customer to evolve its culture? To lead its industry? To succeed realizing its objectives? To expand its value proposition? To delight its customers? Etc. Then start building the dialogue with your prospects. Capture the most valuable information from this dialogue by being curious about your client’s needs and what they care the most about. Finally test the effectiveness of your prospect exploration.
Third step: Determine future potential value with your customer
Work closely during the before sales process with your current customers to gather customer’s expectation and to know what make suppliers work valuable for them. Here a list of questions you can ask your customers to set up together a collaborative vision of customer success. Then test its effectiveness.
Fourth step: Elevate the conversation
In this phase, focus only on customer value targets. Define and pursue customer value targets by asking What, How and Why.
Evolve the dialogue from before to during sale and test the effectiveness of your elevation.
Zurich Insurance Group, Merck/MSD and BNY Mellon master the before sales process and represent each of them a real case study.
Win: During the sale
Ask value-focused questions to unlock actionable awareness of your customers. Discover what matters the most to your customers (Drivers, Objectives, Challenges, Criteria) and be aligned with the different level of your customer’s organization (executives, managers and individual contributors of the project).
1. Define and share your positioning with your customer. Your core components of positioning concern your product, resource, expertise, service, customer experience and brand/reputation.
2. Determine and improve the alignment of your positioning with every level of your customer organization needs. After showing your positioning create the difference.
3. Differentiate your solution with what propose your competitors and create your unique value in the mind of your customer.
Adecco, Honeywell and Panasonic drive success by implementing this process during their sales.
Grow: After the Sale
Realize and determine your past proven value
First you have to meet and exceed your customer expectation. Deliver what you have promised and then summarize your past proven value. Explain to your customer what was his past external drivers, business objectives, internal challenges and then show the solution you have provided and the value you have created and co-created with him. During the after sale dialogue validate the impact of your performance by measuring your success in collaboration with your customer.
Measurement of your success has to be done on the four following impact zones:
- – Value (Delivery of your products, resources and services according to the terms agreed and prompt resolution of problems and conflicts)
- – Alignment (Fit of your solution, product/service ratio against business needs and synchronisation of your business processes with your customers processes for greater efficiency and productivity)
- – Relationships (Development of top level relationships among senior management of both companies)
- – Growth (Opportunities to grow revenues & margins by expanding product portfolio and reducing costs through respectively co-innovation and collaboration.)
After receiving the feedback from your customer you should adapt and transform your approach. Apply lessons you have learned with your customer and understand how your customer defines his/her success after the sale. Adapt your solution to meet your customer’s changing needs and validate your change to ensure both parties are successful and grow.
Finally expand your customer relationship and try to find new business potential values where you can help your customer achieve success again.
The authors provide in-depth case studies featuring Siemens AG, Hilton Worldwide and Securian Financial Group that demonstrate proven strategies around the subject of growing an account after the sale.
President and Founder at PMI
Sales performance consultant
Co-author of Beyond the Sales process
Big Deal Sales Strategist
Sales Hiring Expert, Angel Investor
Co-author of Beyond the Sales process
This article is powered by Salestools.io – #1 Customer Acquisition Platform with the valuable contribution of Dave Stein and Steve Andersen (Beyond the Sales Process is available on Amazon.com).