Most of us work in businesses that require us to win clients who are already working with our competitors, something we euphemistically refer to as a “competitive displacement.” It can be difficult to win your dream clients, and you can easily be discouraged by the time and effort it requires of you, especially if you don’t have a strategy for doing so (See my third book, Eat Their Lunch: Winning Customers Away from Your Competition for proven strategies and tactics).
The following four excuses prevent salespeople from putting in the work necessary to displace their competitor and win their dream clients, along with a better, healthier way to think about winning your dream clients.
- They will never leave their current provider. Never is a very long time. So long, you can’t even imagine it, eternity being incomprehensible. Given a long enough timeline, every one of your dream clients is going to leave their current partner. Over that same timeline, you will lose all of your best clients for one reason or another, many lost through no fault of your own. If you aren’t nurturing relationships, when your dream client is willing to explore change, you won’t know it, now will they know you.
- They aren’t worth the time or trouble. Some clients are more challenging to win than others. They are more demanding, and they need more time and attention. Some of their demands would stretch you and your company, requiring you to grow. There may be easier prospects to target, and there may be fresh leads you believe are more valuable than your targets. Winning these clients can not only grow your capabilities, but it can also help you differentiate your offering, helping you win other clients.
- They are only interested in the lowest price and won’t invest. Some prospects in your territory only perceive “lowest price” as value. These prospects give you zero credit for your compelling differentiation, even when your higher price results in lower overall costs, something a lot of clients say they want until you hand them the pricing and a contract. Over time, as circumstances change, some of the price-sensitive prospects will decide they can no longer suffer the failures that inevitably come from the concessions they’ve made by accepting the lowest price, and conclude they need to spend more on their solution.
- We failed them once, and they’ll never use us again. In the course of my career, I have had several grouchy clients tell me they would never use my company again. So far, that has never proven to be true. Over time, the clients you fail will forgive you (and maybe you will forgive them). The stakeholders who were unhappy with you will move on, leaving their company for another opportunity, replaced by a new decision-maker. Another company will purchase that company and look at all of their partners to ensure they’re getting what they need.
You are always going to be prospecting, and the time is going to pass whether you do this work or not. If you want to win your dream client, you will have to put forth the effort, believing that, over time, their circumstances will change, and you will be there to capitalize on the opportunity.
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