One of the main differences between a good salesperson and a great salesperson (and the same goes between a good Client Success Manager and a great Client Success Manager) is that a good one shows the client the way throughout the sales process or the relationship. A great one shows them THEIR way.
One of my favorite things to do with my clients is listen to their calls with their clients. Recently I have been asked by one of my customers to help them get “Unstuck”. This sales executive has been in the midst of a 7-month sales cycle of some financial services to a large corporation. According to her, she has been working with this client for some time now and she feels “stuck”. I asked to be a fly on the wall on their next call. The call was pleasant, cordial and, well, quite boring. It was scheduled for an hour but lasted only 40 minutes as after 40 minutes it seemed that there was nothing further to discuss at that moment. Not only that, I also noticed that this sales executive was doing most of the talking. You all know what I’m talking about.
Following the call, I asked this sales executive one question: “what was the client’s goal for this call?”. She thought for a long second and said: “hmmm….to get updates on our product”. “But there were no real updates from what I heard. No changes from your last call with him.” I responded. “Yes, but I still wanted to make sure we talked so I can stay in touch and keep leading the way of this sales cycle” she replied.
“So….that was your goal for the meeting, but what was THEIRS??” I pressed.
“Well, I am not sure, but I am pretty happy with the way this sales process is going…”
Remember the opening statement for this post? The difference between a good and a great salesperson. There are many good salespeople out there. These good folks are happy with the way things are going. They are happy with monthly, bi-weekly update calls with their clients, and they are also happy with hitting 60-70% of their goals. But great salespeople aren’t. And great salespeople ask, inquire, and find out what is the goal of the client for each call, for the process, for the anticipated result. What are the clients’ pains, challenges, aspirations, desires, throughout the process and multiple time along it. These great salespeople constantly think about the client and THEIR way of the sales process VS. just THE sales process.
“It’s cool that you are happy with the way this sales process is going.” I said. “And while I would love to spend time with you on what are you happy with, my question to you is, are they happy with it? Are your clients happy with the sales process? Are they getting what they are looking for? Is it going THEIR way?”
“I am not sure.” She replied with a grim stare. “I have always been leading the process and overall, it seems my clients are OK with my approach.”
“I am sure you are good with YOUR approach but is this the approach your client prefers?”
“Hmmmm…..how do I know?” She asked with a I never thought of it look mixed with an a-ha moment.
Before I go back to my conversation with her allow me to expand on the matter. The essence of Emotional Relevance is rooted in creating small, emotional experiences together (seller/s and buyer/s throughout your relationship. I call those Emotional Anchors. Every time you plant one, every time you go through a small emotional experience together you get a bit closer; you tend to open up more and trust the other side a bit more. It’s hard work, it’s ongoing but it pays off.
Some of the large companies out there invest a lot in these emotional anchors along their relationship with their clients exactly for those same reasons. The other day I was flying back from Michigan to Atlanta. Delta, working on showing their customers THEIR way VS just the way, has this new technology in the airport that shows you, the traveler, YOUR personal details on a big screen that only you can see. Not just the flight details and the gate but YOUR details, YOUR gate, YOUR status and along the way, they also thank you, personally. Small, yet emotional and personal gesture that gets the customer to feel special and remember that experience for future Emotional Relevance.
Another good way for creating these Emotional Anchors is to simply ask. Ask for their advice, for their input and for their preferred approach. You see, one of the hardest things to do as a salesperson is to sell the way they want to be sold to and not the way you want to be sold to. And so, simply ask. When you start a sales process, on the very first call, talk about your way of selling, your approach and ask them. Is this the way THEY prefer to be sold to? Is this approach the right approach for THEM? At this point they will feel you care about them and not about you, they will be surprised because most people do not ask them that (and surprise by the way is another great little Emotional Anchor). And this question checks two of the three pillars of Emotional Relevance: Standing Out and Making an Impact. And hey, they might at this point just actually share with you what is THEIR preferred way of being sold to.
“Well, did you ever ask them?”
“Ask them whether my way of selling is the way they would like to be sold to? What if they say that it’s not?”
“Then you’re in! You are already a step ahead of the competition. And then make sure they share with you the way they prefer to be sold to”.
“And then what?” she wondered.
“Then, oh then, sell them that way. Then is when you stop showing them the way you have been showing them thus far. Then dear good salesperson, then you step into the world of great sales and client relations. Then you stop showing them the way and start showing them THEIR way”.