Begin with the past
I was in this renewal call where a recruiter was going on and on about how one of our competitors had so many nurses on their platform. A few follow-up questions revealed that she felt strongly about this view. Didn’t look so good for one of the products that we had been using to hire nurses over the past year. They had just started using this product two months before the renewal and it was unclear if the leads we had got them were good or bad.
I asked her, “why did you buy this product in the first place” At which point she gave a passionate pitch of the product, better than anything I could have said.
As a salesperson who gets existing accounts, from the previous salesperson, and who is in charge of growing the accounts, one of the biggest mistakes I made was to skip straight to “are you happy with the product”. This is a tricky situation to be in because you don’t necessarily have a foundation from which to assess what the customer says next. If they say we are happy, ok great. If they are unhappy you get into this place where you have to deal with a situation that you might not even have been responsible for.
Sometimes a client will say, “we bought your product a few years ago and have always been renewing it.”
Ask, well what changed this year?
“You have the option of not renewing it all, why are we even having this conversation?”
I’d been trained under the Sandler system and during my first few weeks, I would come to my calls with a list of questions that could identify possible need. I asked about recruiting questions. I asked about the most important roles. I ask about branding questions. I asked about diversity. I asked if they are opening a new office. But at the end end of the conversation all I had was a bunch of scattered priorities. Scattered not because the customer was scattered, but because my questions were all over the place. I was making my conversations very complex.
It is up to you to get to the one thing that is mission critical. Sometimes the client might not know what their mission critical thing is themselves. This is a huge opportunity to add value to the customer. You are going from salesperson to consultant by helping them figure it out.
“How would you prioritize these goals?”
“Which of these is most important”
“Why is the the most important”
“What happens if that doesn’t happen”
“Actually thinking out loud, that goal might not be as important as this other goal we’ve been putting in the back burner” [this is a beautiful place to be]
Resistance vs No Resistance
“My customer’s won’t talk to me” is something that I heard from a few salespeople. I think this happens when you resist what the customer wants. For example if a customer emails you and says “hey for the next years contract we actually want to churn half our package”, the immediate impulse as a salesperson is to go “NOOOOOO.” How could you say that after all the great conversations we’ve had? At this point a sales person might argue with the customer. If you want to put yourselves in the shoes of a customer, this is every customer’s worse nightmare, having a salesperson argue against their decision. What I’ve found is that moments like these are a good opportunity to build trust. Call the customer without the intent of changing their mind, but understanding their decision. They might actually have a really good reason for their decision. Your customer can sense if you are resisting and this will get them to bring their guard up.