Your clients need you to bring them the next big idea. They need you to be a strategic advantage and to help to propel their business forward. They need you to challenge them to create more value for their clients and their stakeholders, but there are some things that you establish before you bring your ideas.
The thing you need most is the right kind of relationship.
Why Should I Trust You?
If you are going to help your clients to take their business to the next level, you are going to challenge them to change. The bigger the improvement your idea offers, the bigger the change that you are going to ask your client to make. Change requires the risk of abandoning the safety and warm comfort of the status quo.
It’s easier to bring your client a disruptive, breakthrough idea if you already have a relationship, if you already have trust. This is why I have written about how important it is to nurture relationships with your dream clients over time: moving from their current provider to you is a risk, and it requires a high level of trust.
I have personally brought my own prospective dream clients breakthrough ideas that they handed to their existing provider solely because my competitor had the relationship and had established greater trust than I did (in the short time that I had to do so). I have also been the beneficiary of trust, having had my clients ask me to help them with an idea that they obtained elsewhere because they trusted me to execute.
The question you should ask yourself before your bring your breakthrough, results-producing idea is whether you have the trust that you need to get an agreement to move forward with it.
Why Should I Believe You?
There is more to trust in the relationship at work here. Your client also has to believe that you are right about your idea. You need to have the business acumen, the situational knowledge, and track record of results that make it possible for your client to believe you.
You have to be credible.
It’s easier to bring ideas if you have a track record. Do you know enough to know? It’s easier to bring ideas to your clients if you have already proven to have an understanding of their business, an understanding of their competitive environment, and an understanding of how their organization works. You need to be able to know enough to know what is possible within their organization and how things would work for them—if you are to be believed.
It’s easiest to influence people if you know what already influences them. What kind of proof is most effective? Who will they ask questions of to confirm what you suggest? What would make it easy to believe you? Have you done enough work for and with this client to be believed?
The question you need to ask is does your relationship provide you with the credibility to bring your idea now. If you are known as someone that provides products, you may not have the credibility. If you are known as something more, you have a better chance on a bigger idea.
Why Should I Do This with You?
There is still more to the foundation of trust and relationships here. If you are going to challenge your client to step up their game, you are going to have to tell them why you are the right choice as a partner.
Your client needs to know that you are going to be there with them when the bullets start flying. The bigger the idea, the more likely the bullets turn into an all out nuclear attack.
And the more promising the change, the more likely that the road to getting there is plagued with obstacles. It’s tough to consider running off down that road with a stranger.
Your client needs to know that you are going own and manage the outcome of the change initiative that accompanies your breakthrough idea. They need to know that you are going to be in the foxhole with them, and that you have the ability to lead change within your own organization to ensure that they succeed.
How do they know this about you when you don’t have a relationship? They don’t. This makes it more difficult to have your idea taken seriously, and it makes it tougher to get the commitments you need to move forward.
All Things Unequal
All things being equal, relationships win. All thing being unequal, relationships still win.
You have the killer idea and no relationship. Your competitor has the killer idea and they have the relationships. Your idea is slightly better, but your competitor has the building wired top to bottom. You lose.
Your job in sales is to make things unequal. If you are going to bring your client their next big thing, make sure you have the relationships that allow you to successfully do so.
What does trust in your relationship enable?
Is a relationship that is only based on friendship and like ability enough to win in sales?
Who do you have to be to bring your client a disruptive, revolutionary idea?
What does your client need from you in order to give you an opportunity to pursue and develop an opportunity?
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