You call to verify that you are producing results for your new client. Your contact is already time-starved and has far too many initiatives vying for his far too limited attention. Your client is presently pleased with your performance and says: “Listen. No news is good news. If you don’t hear from me, assume everything is good.”
As time passes, you operate under this assumption. Since there has been no news, that’s good news. But it isn’t good news. No news is no news, not good news.
Your Responsibility to Own Outcomes
In sales, you are responsible for the outcomes that you sold and that you promised. It is your responsibility to follow up and take a measure of how you and your company are doing producing those outcomes. It is an abdication of your duty to your client, to your company, and to yourself not to ensure that you are delivering.
By relying on “no news is good news,” you have accepted from the client a shift in responsibilities. Instead of you being the responsible party in ensuring that things are working as they should, you have allowed the client to own the responsibility of communicating problems to you. The responsibility for verifying that you are producing results and serving your client is a responsibility that is not yours to relinquish—to your client or to anyone else.
Discovering the Undiscovered
The problem with accepting a blanket premise like “no news is good news” is that it leaves too much to chance, and too many other peoplearen’t considered.
Organizations are complex. Dissatisfaction can reside in one area—or one person—and not another. No news from some stakeholders may mean that things are working well for them as it pertains to you and your solution. But it says nothing about other stakeholders and how what you do is working for them.
Undiscovered problems and unresolved issues put clients at risk. When you found your client—when they were still your dream client—you won your opportunity by helping them in some area where they were dissatisfied. That dissatisfaction likely didn’t creep in overnight. It’s likely that it festered and grew over time. The neglect of this dissatisfaction is what lost your competitor their client. The very same thing can easily happen to you.
When no news becomes bad news, you need to know—and sooner rather than later.
Your client’s don’t really mean, “no news is good news.” What they really mean is that they don’t have time for conversations that don’t add value. They don’t have time to take a call so that you can “just check in.”
If your clients don’t like you following up, your follow up isn’t adding value. This means you have to change your approach. You have to find a way to make your calls valuable. There are lots of ways to do so.
You can share your client’s usage metrics with them as a way to verify that they are getting the results that they need. You can survey all of their end users and stakeholders and share reports as a way to verify your results. You can create a custom scorecard as part of your delivery process, and you can share your scores with your clients, asking them to score you against it. You can schedule quarterly business reviews to discover how you need to change to help your client in the future.
These methods, and others like them, lead to conversations that allow you to add value and to ensure that you are succeeding for your clients. There is always news, and it is rarely 100% good news—even when you are doing well! There are always improvements to be made, and your clients are regularly faced with new challenges and new demands. You get to determine whether you are going to help your clients in the future through the actions you take today.
No news is not good news. It’s no news. Treat it as such, and take the actions necessary to discover the real story and the ways that you can make a difference.
Why do your clients really say that no news is good news?
Is it really good news? Or is it something less than that?
Whose responsibility is it to ensure that you know what is going well and what isn’t?
How do you make your calls and meetings to verify results more than check in calls? How do you ensure that they add value?
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Filed under: Sales 3.0