This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.
For sometime now I have been noticing a growing trend. When I ask salespeople what they need to do to create value for their clients, they know exactly what to do and how it would be done. When I ask them to share with me all of the ideas of how their clients could improve their results, they immediately rattle off a list of actionable ideas. They know how to help their clients, and they know where their client should go next.
But when I ask them why they haven’t shared these ideas, the answers aren’t so compelling. We are so used to selling in one way that we get locked into a certain set of activities in a certain order. Because we believe we always need to diagnose before we prescribe, we believe that we always have to start the process by listening to our client. But because we are already serving our clients, we already know what ails our client before they do. We also know what we are doing for our other clients that might benefit them.
One way to help a client understand that they should be dissatisfied is by asking them questions. Another way to show them how they might produce better results is simply by sharing your ideas with them.
Make a List of Ideas
Make a list of the ideas you have that will help your client produce better results. What should your clients be doing that they aren’t doing now? How would it help them produce better results? What are they risking by not changing and by not taking the actions you know that they need to take?
Build Proof Your Ideas Work
When you provide your clients with actionable ideas, it helps to give them some evidence as to how it is going to help them. Prepare examples of how your ideas and are helping others to produce results. How are your ideas helping others generate more revenue? How are your ideas making your clients more profitable? What have they gained?
Proof and evidence is not only compelling. It can also help your clients envision their own future with the new and better results you can help them achieve.
Make the Two Asks
You need two asks. The first ask is for permission to share ideas. This isn’t the same thing as pitching your product, your service, or your solution. Instead, you need permission just to share a single, compelling idea. You share your idea and your proof.
If the idea is compelling, you need a second ask. The second ask is permission to take the next step to discover how you might begin working on that idea with your client.
Bringing ideas helps to make you a strategic partner. It helps you to avoid complacency. It builds the path to retention. You already have the ideas. You need to bring them to bear on helping your clients produce better results.
Note: Small and mid size businesses are more flexible than larger companies. They almost always have a greater ability to be flexible in serving their clients, and they have an easier time innovating and executing on ideas. But to make their ideas valuable, these ideas have to be shared with your clients.
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