Most salespeople spend too little time calling on the very best prospects, their dream clients. Most of the time this is attributed to the fact that the dream client already has a relationship with someone who provides them with what they sell.
They call occasionally to “check in,” and, when asked about the dream client, they say things like “They are not open to talking right now,” or “I have them on the calendar to call again next quarter.”
Your dream clients aren’t always closed to the idea of opening a relationship and waiting another quarter is a recipe for failure. Here is a list of reasons why you must not believe they are closed and why you must not wait to take action.
You Don’t Have Any Way of Knowing What Has Changed
Believing that your best prospects are not open to talking now is to believe the world is a static place where change is rare. The world, and especially the business world, is a dynamic place where the only constant that can be counted on with any certainty is change.
Your dream clients are living in and dealing with a changing environment. They are constantly facing new challenges, identifying new opportunities, and making the necessary adjustments to deal with both.
Make the calls to find out what has changed, what is changing, and what might change in the future.
You Assume That Your Dream Client Is Not Talking To Your Competitor
Personally, I have dozens of stories from salespeople who believed that their dream client wasn’t open to changing from their present provider only to discover that they had in fact switched to another one of their competitors. In every case, they strongly (and incorrectly) believed that they would have been given an opportunity to compete for the business.
Your dream clients have limited time and limited bandwidth for dealing with the would-be business partners. They filter in those who they believe are worth knowing, and they filter out those who they don’t believe are capable of delivering real business value.
Yes, it is unfair that they make the assumption that you can’t help them even before you meet. Yes, they are making a mistake because you are clearly the best choice. It is up to you to change their mind. If you don’t change their mind, don’t be surprised to find that they have one of your competitors as their new provider.
Assume that your dream client is talking to your fiercest competitor and act accordingly.
You Forget That Other Contacts in the Same Company May Want to Talk
Have you ever gotten so locked on to one contact within the company, that you didn’t call on any of the other contacts in the company? Did you neglect to call other contacts who may have been willing to meet with you and who would have been happy to share additional contacts and information with you?
Making the assumption that the dream client isn’t open to change means believing that everyone in a company feels the very same way all of the time. It undervalues the fact that sometimes a consensus for change can boil up from the bottom. You may in fact be calling on the decision-maker who is completely satisfied. But they may only be satisfied because their constituencies, the people who rely on your product or service, haven’t yet expressed their dissatisfaction and their openness to change.
By talking to lots of people at lots of levels within the company, you can uncover the dissatisfaction and the performance gaps that you and your company can improve. It makes it a Hell of a lot easier to get the decision-maker’s attention when you have built the consensus for change, and when you have gathered enough information to talk about it in monetary terms and ROI.
You Discount the Power of Nurturing
When your dream client decides that is time to change, you need to be known. You need to be more than a salesperson who left four messages on their voice mail last year—messages that were left at convenient and predictable 90-day intervals.
Leaving messages is not nurturing a potential relationship. Leaving messages does nothing to differentiate you from your competitors and does nothing valuable for your dream client. Nurturing these relationships requires that you take the actions necessary to be the go-to-person should change be needed by having already provided value—this means providing value before you make a sale.
Call Reluctance is Caused By Having Nothing Worthwhile to Say
The real reason for the call reluctance (and make no mistake, this is call reluctance, plain and simple), is that you believe you have nothing worthwhile to say. Call reluctance is the result of not having some idea that the dream client will stop what they are doing to listen to because it is compelling enough to command their attention.
Being effective in sales requires that you build the tools necessary to nurture relationships with your dream clients over long periods of time. Success means that you find some way to create value even before your dream client is considering changing partners. It means finding a way to distinguish yourself and to make yourself the only choice your dream client will make should they change partners—and they will, eventually, change partners.
Build your nurturing toolkit.
Salespeople mistakenly believe that their dream clients aren’t open to changing business partners. They mistakenly wait too long between attempts to create the relationships they need to successfully compete for their dream clients business. The root cause is call reluctance.
1. How do you know your dream client isn’t waiting to hear from you?
2. How do you know that nothing has changed and that the change didn’t create a new opportunity for you and your company?
3. What contacts within your dream client might be willing to talk to you and give you contacts and information that would better enable a conversation with a decision-maker later?
4. How do you know they aren’t talking to anybody? Are you sure your competitors don’t already have a budding relationship?
5. What is your plan to nurture these relationships and to provide value before you have the opportunity to discuss a deal?
6. What do you do that makes you the dream clients first call should they decide to change?
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