It may feel as if your dream client’s demands are unreasonable. It may seem that what they ask from you is an indication that you are not trusted. You can sense their skepticism towards your solution and the claims you make.
This has very little to do with you personally. You are paying for the sins of sales organizations (and salespeople) past.
Some of the salespeople and the sales organizations your dream client has engaged with in the past have violated their trust. They made commitments they couldn’t keep. They made certain promises in order to obtain the business.
Most salespeople don’t lie. But many refuse to manage their client’s expectations and instead allow their client to believe something that isn’t true. They allow them to believe that they can achieve the result they need without making any investment of their own time, effort, or money. They let them believe that the results that they are promising will be delivered without the massive change effort that is required.
You weren’t there when these promises were made. You are a professional, and you walk away from business before you make promises that you can’t keep. You also manage your dream client’s expectations, letting them know exactly what it will take to get them to the better outcomes they need, including the greater investment of time, effort, and money it requires.
But you look and sound a lot like salespeople they have bought from in the past. And so you are distrusted, until you no longer look or sound like the salespeople that violated their trust.
Your solutions are also greeted with skepticism. How can you produce the results that you are suggesting when those before you couldn’t? How can you really be that different when your dream client believes that you are a commodity?
The skepticism manifests itself as contractual language, service level agreements, and discounts for failing to meet certain targets. All of these exist because those who came before you failed.
They failed to deliver what their dream client needed. They failed to tell their dream client that they couldn’t get the result they needed without eliminating the constraints, mostly financial, that their client couldn’t easily overcome.
Because sales organizations of the past refused to do what is right, you are now paying the price for their failure.
How to Stop Paying for the Sins of Others
This sounds easier than it is. To stop paying for the sins of sales organization’s past, you have to be honest. You have to tell the truth—even if it costs you your deal.
You have to take your client’s dream that they can have perfect, lowest price, and now and smash it into a million pieces.
You have to explain their constraints to them in a way that they understand what it will take for them to achieve the results they need. You have to tell them what it will cost. You have to let them know how difficult the effort will be, and how they will be tested to stay the course when things get ugly. You have to make and keep the promise that you will be standing in the foxhole with them through all of it.
Doing anything less than this, and you are just another sinner in a long line of the same.
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