Last week we learned that one of the quickest ways to gain credibility with our customers is to help them solve their problems. The best opportunity to do so…is during the sales call. “Because when the customer’s interest is high, that is the best time to strike!” This shows the customer that we care and we are interested in them and their business. Always establish, “a sense of urgency!”
It also allows us the opportunity to continue with our probing questions in order to learn more about our customer’s business. Yes we know we want the customers business but what does that really mean? Are we looking to capture a little, some or all of their business? Well if you are like me you want all of the business of course. But sometimes there circumstances that doesn’t allow for us to capture all of the business for a number of reasons. Credit issues, convenience and loyalty are just a few examples for some of the reasons. Regardless of how much business we desire or want we must define it! And how do we do that? By either knowing or finding out how much our customer is worth.
Personally, I like to know this information during the early stages of establishing the relationship. Why? Because I want to know that I’m spending my time and my resources in a productive manner. If I’m investing my time and resources on a customer I need to have a few questions answered.
1. Does representing this customer make sense or is it logical?
2. Can I make a PROFIT for my company by representing this customer?
3. Can I represent them ethically, morally and legally?
If I can answer “Yes” to all of these questions then I GO FOR IT. Here is how I do it. First I make it a point to know how much the customer is worth by no later than the 3rd sales call. The first sales call I like to refer to as the “meet and greet” call where we get know each other’s background. By the second call we should have determined and solved all of the customer’s current issues or problems. So by the time we have made the 3rd call we are ready to move forward in establishing the customer’s worth.
There are many ways to find out what our customer’s business is worth. You will have to determine the method that works for you. My method is a direct one! Here is an example of some of the questions I use. “Mr. Customer what would you say that your yearly purchases (through distribution) would be?” Here is another example of a question that I like to use. “Mr. Customer what percentage of the business would you say that my company has of your overall business?”
Just those two questions alone are so powerful…especially if we have solved the customer’s problems before we have attempted to ask them. But if we haven’t acknowledged their problems first then it is generally the customer’s perception that we haven’t earned the right to ask those questions. Typically when a sales person is uncomfortable with asking these types of probing questions it is because they haven’t earned that right. That’s why it is important to solve the customer’s problem first. It begins the process of establishing credibility and over time a long-term relationship.
By the time we have completed the sales call we should know what monetary value they have placed on their business. Now understand that we all have egos. Our customer’s are no different. Although most of them are pretty honest, others will tend to” amplify” their worth. Remember that in one of my previous post I stated that we wanted to use this number as our goal or target. So it is important that we are as accurate as possible for budget purposes. I will typically cut the number in half. So if the customer says that they will do $300,000 worth of business this year I will use $150,000 figure as my goal or target. I’ll then compare that number to the amount business that we have captured over the past couple of years as well as how it compares to the year to date sales. Now I have determined what the potential is that I have to grow the customer’s business!
Once we determine our potential to grow our customer’s business, the next step is to determine who has it now and why? Have a great week!