You say that you have never taken a client for granted. I wouldn't bet on that. Your No. 1 client is usually someone else's No. 1 prospect. Too many times, in a rush to procure new business and sign up prospects, we have a tendency to take our current clients for granted.
How do we get a firmly entrenched client away from our competitors? Let's hope that the competitor has left a small crack in the door. Even if you know the prospect and his family intimately and socialize with them outside the office, the basic rules of good salesmanship do not change. You still have to provide value to the prospect.
Most prospects buy on emotion. Here are six unconventional tactics that can turn a prospect's head in your direction and toward your station.
- Develop an inside coach: You need to get up to speed on this prospect as quickly as you can. Get advice from people who already have knowledge of the business and important contacts that can influence the decision-maker. Coaching can come from inside their business or from people who already work with them, such as their vendors.
- Use your referral alliance: This is a small world. Throw the client's name around your current circle of clients and see if anybody knows them. In most cases, this can lead to a call from one of your satisfied clients to the prospect - getting things rolling right away. People want to do business with people who are successful. Sometimes they need an outside voice to move the process along.
- Get more "influencers" to help you: How deep are you penetrating the different levels of people on this account? If the client is firmly entrenched with the competitor, the deeper you have to go in developing relationships apart from the main decisionmaker. Have you met the salespeople on the floor? Business manager? Warehouse people? It takes work, but the more you do, the better your chances of making this prospect a client.
- Ask them for their "wish" list: If you could satisfy your customer's wildest expectations, what would they have you do? Ask them and find out. Then figure out a way to make it happen.
- Walk their business: It amazes me that we think we should earn a meeting with a prospect without first walking his business. Walk once, walk it twice and keep walking the business until you know as much about it as they do.
- Build your own customer profile: You should have a thorough knowledge of the customer's personality, likes and dislikes, family members, education, community involvement, and much more. Ask yourself, "Does your competitor have a better profile of the customer than you do?" If they do, it's going to be pretty tough to dislodge this prospect. If not, your chances of selling this prospect over a period of time are extremely high.
Remember to protect your existing relationships, because your clients are somebody else's top prospects. It takes three times the effort, money and time to get a new prospect than to keep existing clients. Protect the home front, then go after the gold.