Early in my career I was solely focused on closing business. You could say I was a “bull in a china shop.” Fortunately, I had some great mentors and co-workers that showed me why it is important to not be selling all the time. I started to understand that getting to know my customer contacts a little better or helping them in some way would actually differentiate me and make driving business easier. This included everyone from Administrative Assistants to Senior Executives.
Take a Step Back – what are your customer’s personal interests?
It is easy to become too focused on selling all the time. This will become a turn-off for your customers. Take a few minutes, maybe while you are driving to an appointment, and ask yourself two questions:
- How well do I really know the customer contacts I need on my side? For example, do you know when their birthdays are or what charitable organizations they are involved in?
- What have you done for these key contacts in the past 3 months that had nothing to do with selling something?
I am confident that if, for example, you take a few minutes with Administrative Assistants that can be “gatekeepers” to find out how their weekend went (on a consistent basis) they will go out of their way to help you.
How can you help your customer with their business related interests?
There are many ways you can provide information your customer will see as valuable without selling:
- Provide tickets to an upcoming event that relates to a project your customer is managing
- Orchestrate assistance to resolve an issue – if your customer is facing a tough technical issue, pull together subject matter experts in your company for a discussion with your customer on how best to resolve the issue.
- Share trends – customers are busy and sometimes do not have time to get a perspective on what similar companies are doing. Share ideas without, of course, violating confidentiality agreements.
Over the past year I have worked closely with Jeff Levin, Business Development Manager from SHI who is focused on K – 12 schools in Connecticut. SHI provides a variety a wide variety of technology solutions and services that enhance students’ learning experience. SHI has many competitors so differentiation in how Jeff approaches his customers is critical.
Jeff’s focus on developing relationships with customers exactly as I described above has fueled his success and made resolving difficult issues easier. He clearly is a leader in the opinion of many IT Directors at these schools.
Matt Heinz, Heinz Marketing could not have said it any better:
“Build, value and nurture relationships before you need them. Be the person who cares more before there’s anything specific in it for you.”
Please share this post if you think it can help others. I welcome your comments and suggestions.