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"The top salespeople get emotionally involved with the people they serve. Don't build a wall between you and them. People don't care how much you know until you show them how much you care."
~ Tom Hopkins
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by Tom Hopkins, in Tom's November 2009 Newsletter
While the qualification process is critical in making an initial sale to clients, it's not something you can do once and forget about. In challenging times, you may need to continually re-qualify existing clients. When anything changes, think of them as if they're new clients all over again. The key element is what they might want or need to change about their current situation. You can never assume you know whether or not they remain highly qualified candidates for your product or service.
Changes that are impacting just one of your clients could be making an impact on all of them. Fastco manufacturing might be a good client when they’re running three shifts each day. But with any change in their production, such as cutting out a shift, or running 24/5 instead of 24/7, their needs may change…and your services may need to change as well. Maybe they're no longer an ideal candidate for product X that you offer. Getting in there and truly working to serve their needs might show that they've become a better candidate for product Y. If you had just let them ride along with product X, they may have been tempted away by a competitor who pointed out a different solution to their needs.
No matter what the times are, there are always niche markets that grow and prosper. If you're not in regular contact with your existing clients, you can't assume they're all faring the same.
If Carol’s Cookie Cupboard is experiencing an increase in business, they may need more of what you are currently supplying them. Be considerate of their time—especially if their business is on the rise, but be prepared to ask qualifying questions every time you visit with them.
“Carol, when you invested in your first two commercial grade ovens from our company, you had just moved into this space. Now, look at you! You’ve expanded into another part of the building. You have three new bakers on staff and are offering free delivery. Aren’t you proud of this accomplishment?
I’m curious, with how well your business is growing, how soon do you think you’ll have a need for a third oven?”
It could very well be that Carol hadn’t given it a thought in all the busy-ness of her days. When you bring it up, she just might realize how much more efficient they could be with a third oven and come to the conclusion that it’s time to expand her cooking facilities now.
Constant qualification is a key to continuous growth in your ability to close more sales.
Sales professionals handle challenges promptly. This includes returning calls as quickly as possible, researching the details of what caused the challenge and finding creative ideas for resolving them.
No one wants to face an angry client. Yet delaying a response to their challenge will only create more challenges down the road. Don’t feel that you have to have a solution before you contact them.
Think about how you feel when you’re unhappy with something. Isn’t it better when someone just gets back to you quickly to either gather the details or just to listen to you vent? Once calmness and clarity reign, solutions can be sought and provided.
The better you are at resolving the inevitable challenges associated with being in sales, the more your business will grow—by referral. You can bet John and Sally will be telling everyone they know about their challenge. Don’t you think it’s wise to give them a happy ending to the story?
Even if you are unable to resolve their challenge fully or immediately, stay in touch with unhappy clients until they’re satisfied or ready to move forward—continuing to do business with you.
You would use this close when your potential client stalls you with wanting to shop around or look for a better bargain. Their fear is twofold. One fear is that they’re making a bad decision. The other is that they will part with too much of their money for what they’re gaining in benefits. You need to calm those emotional fears and help them rationalize the decision.
Start by agreeing with them. “That may well be true, Jerry. And after all, in today’s economy, we all want the most for our money. A truth that I have learned over the years is that the cheapest price is not always what we really want. Most people look for three things when making an investment: 1) the finest quality, 2) the best service, and 3) the lowest price. I have never yet found a company that could provide all three—the finest quality and the best service at the lowest price. I’m curious, Jerry, for your long-term happiness, which of those three would you be most willing to give up? Quality? Service? Or, low price?”
Rarely will clients want to skimp on quality or service. What you’ve done here is reminded them—in a kind and gentle way—that ‘you get what you pay for.’ This reinforces the benefits you’ve already been discussing as being of tremendous value and should put a little doubt in their minds about the level of quality and service they might get elsewhere when trying to save a few dollars.
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