Do you know exactly where you stand in your customer’s eyes? Do your customers view you as a supplier, a vendor, or a trusted consultant? Do they seek you out for ideas or brainstorming sessions, or do they simply let you know what they need without much in the way of meaningful dialog? When asked, would they say that your relationship is collaborative, or more of the traditional buyer/seller arrangement? (i.e. they have a need and you fulfill that need with your products and services) Conversely, how do you think of yourself when you talk about your role in relation to your customers, and the importance of what you provide to their organization?
Here’s a quick ‘gut check’ list to help you gauge your current level of impact or influence, in terms of how your customers might perceive you.
My customers and I enjoy a positive relationship, but they generally seek out at least one or two other competitors for price comparisons or other cost factors whenever a new opportunity arises. (Hint: this would suggest your customer views you as a vendor)
My customers introduce me to other key people, including top executives, influencers, and decision-makers within their organization. (Hint: this would suggest your customer views you as a trusted consultant)
My customer interactions usually focus around pricing or product information, and invariably include quotes or bids (I.e. request for proposals). (Hint: this would suggest your customer views you as a supplier)
My customers and I generally interact well when I initiate the meeting; however they rarely contact me unless they have an issue that requires my attention or they need specific information. (Hint: this would suggest your customer views you as a supplier)
My customers see real value in long-range planning in the areas that I can impact, and they allocate time on a regular basis for strategic interactions and project development. (Hint: this would suggest your customer views you as a trusted consultant)
My customers are always willing to meet with me to discuss current trends or time-sensitive issues, along with any future-oriented topics or opportunities. (Hint: this would suggest your customer views you as a vendor moving towards a trusted consultant)
My customers and I work together as a mutually supportive team, examining the critical needs, collaborating on proposals, co-developing the solutions, and figuring out the real impact (ROI) on their organization. (Hint: this would suggest your customer views you as a trusted consultant)
The benefits associated with moving up the customer perception spectrum are both enormous and essential if you want to land TOP Line Accounts™. This important concept applies to closing new accounts or cultivating existing accounts that have obvious (and untapped) potential for growth. For those sellers willing to do the hard work (heavy lifting), here are 3 things that you can do now to get started.
- Invest in your skills and expertise
- Analyze the needs of your customers
- Adopt a consultant’s view and approach
Investing in your skills and expertise means seeking out vehicles or venues (books, courses, seminars, webinars, or other online resources) for personal growth and development. A good rule of thumb is that 5% of a given week or month should be focused on investing in your expertise or skill-set.
Analyzing the needs of your customers means becoming a dedicated, full-time student of their enterprise. This helps to broaden your understanding of their business, their industry, their priorities, and their goals. Be curious. Be attentive. Be pro-active. This in-depth approach will yield more productive sales questions, along with revealing often-overlooked clues to insights that can be shared with your customers. Executives expect this level of presence, intelligence, and resourcefulness.
Adopting a consultative view and approach will dramatically change the conversation with your customer. A consultative approach might include challenging the status quo and evaluating both the pros and cons of a given solution, or the merits of an up-and-coming alternative. By looking at problems or barriers through a more open lens, creative solutions and resources become more apparent, and the goals much clearer and achievable.
I’m confident that you know much of what we have covered to this point. The real question is, are you ready to commit to really moving the dial forward with regards to improving your customers’ perception of you? If so, you can expect to see real, immediate, and measurable benefits.
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The C-suite executive perspectives at the end of each chapter reveal exactly how senior leaders view sales encounters and what would cause them to keep the door open for follow up meetings. Check it out at http://amzn.to/2hdas8J