There are thousands of posts here about how to create and win new sales opportunities, many of which explain what you owe your prospective clients as a professional consultative salesperson. I hope those posts help you improve your game and win big deals. But don’t overlook post-sale customer care: your obligations don’t end when your dream client signs your contact and starts paying your invoices. If you manage post-sale care well, you can generate new opportunities and even bigger deals.
Execution and Accountability
The first thing you owe your new client after the sale is a world-class handoff to your team. In many cases, your client won’t be part of the conversation you have with your team, but they will feel the impact, positive or negative, of the work you do! Ensure that your team understands what your client is going to need from them and how they may need to adjust their delivery. You might have a kickoff meeting to connect your client directly with the team they’ll be working with, so your team can ask questions and clarify exactly what the client expects.
As a salesperson, you shouldn’t spend your time working in operations. But because you are accountable to your clients, you are responsible for the outcomes you sold them— and your team is responsible for all the work that leads to those outcomes. To reach those outcomes, you have to lead your team and your client’s team.
When your team is struggling to produce a certain result, you can intervene by giving them the resources and assistance they need, from within your own company. You might feel like someone else should be doing that work, but remember that you are acting on your client’s behalf. After all, you sold them an outcome— not a disclaimer that says it’s okay for your team to fail them as long as it doesn’t inconvenience you.
You might also have to lead your client and their team. Sometimes your client doesn’t do the work they need to do on their side, or they refuse to make a necessary change to reach the better results you promised them. It may take all of your business acumen and sales skills to move the obstacles that prevent success, so you can make good on what you owe your client.
Because you sold your client a certain outcome, you are also responsible for monitoring those results. Disinterest or even apathy about what happens after the sale shows ignorance about commercial relationships, not to mention a dereliction of your duty to your clients. You need to be sure your client is succeeding, and you need to know when they are challenged.
Monitoring their results will let you recognize those challenges, so you can secure the help they need to execute your solution and reap the benefits. If you only treat follow-up as something you do as part of the sales conversation, not what you do after the sale, it will cost you future deals. A lack of monitoring smacks of entitlement, complacency, and arrogance, creating the perfect conditions for your competitor to swoop in and solve the very problem you refuse to address for (and with) your soon-to-be ex-client.
Your client will be as committed to you as you are to them. If you don’t care what happens after you sell them your solution, someone else will.
The Next Initiative
You have created consistent value for your client, starting with the sales conversation and going straight through to execution. You have monitored their results, following up, and helping them when they were experiencing challenges. Unlike other salespeople they have bought from, you didn’t disappear or whine when they had serious problems. Instead, you showed up and ensured they received the help and the outcome they needed.
Great work. But your client is still owed more, and you are obligated to provide what they need: a clear vision of what comes next. You can call this up-selling, cross-selling, or a land and expand approach. But it’s really the creation of new and even greater value. You owe them the next initiative, a right you have earned.
One way to make future sales easier is to combine great ideas with outstanding client care, care so good that you earn an absolute right to the next opportunity with that client. Proposing what comes next is part of the first sale, not the second sale. Once you apply that truth, you’ll have an easier time growing your portfolio of clients and your wallet share. You will also create clients who will be yours for as long as you take care of them.
In the end, you owe your clients greater value creation and better results as part of an upward spiral you help them create and maintain over years—or decades. A signed contract is a milestone, but it’s not the end. Instead, it begins the process of delivering value and opening up the possibility to create new and greater value in the future.
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Filed under: Sales