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The Differences In Order Acquisition and Client Acquisition

There is a difference in acquiring orders and acquiring a client. You can acquire orders and not have acquired the client (or customer, as the case may be).

Many business-to-business sales organizations get this wrong, especially when they need orders. They follow a sales process that is designed to obtain an order. They ask for an order, and in a lot of cases they get an order. But by doing so, they make it more difficult to acquire the client.

The client gives them a single, difficult to fill order (which some salespeople are naive enough to ask for). The client would give that order to any salesperson who asks. Or, the client is in a bind and can’t get what they want when they want it, so they offer the salesperson who has been hounding them for a chance to get his foot in the door an order so they can get out of a bind.

Because the salesperson and their company behave transactionally, believing that they need orders, they get orders. But they don’t acquire the client, when acquiring the client would get them all of the orders (or at least a significant piece of business). When you behave transactionally, you define yourself as such.

There isn’t a business that needs orders more than they need clients. Your local pizza shop doesn’t want you to order a pizza from them; they want you to order every pizza from them. Amazon.com doesn’t want you to order a book from them; they want you to order all of the books you will ever buy from them–and everything else you will ever buy, to boot. These are highly transactional businesses, yet they work very hard to change the nature of the relationship.

If what you really want to acquire is a client, then you cannot behave transactionally. You can always ask for an order, but you should always do so in the context of a sales process that is working towards an agreement to work together at a much higher level.


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