Guest Post By: Emmie Brown
Many account managers stay very busy meeting with their existing customers- so much so that they don’t make time to get in front of new business. This can be a costly mistake that prevents them from building their income. And, over time, as accounts slowly go away, can even cause them to have a dwindling income. Their income is most likely to dwindle if they are not making every one of those visits truly worthwhile. In other words, they are acting as professional visitors, rather than as consultative sales professionals.
If you are not uncovering a new opportunity to quote at least 1 out of 4 of your visits, then it could mean 1 of 2 things:
1. You are going to frequently.
2. You are not effective enough with your visit.
PREPARING FOR YOUR VISIT
You can actually do fewer visits with each customer, saving you massive amounts of time, money and energy if you plan and use your time effectively on each visit. The problem is that most salespeople underprepare for the visits. Consequently, you don’t get to meet with everyone you would like to get an audience with, you spend too much of the valuable time in unproductive conversation, you forget to follow-up on key decisions, and you don’t get the results from those visits that they could. To get the most from your customer visit, do these 3 things:
1. Know who you are going to see. Make sure that you are not just meeting with the same decision-makers while failing to see others while you are there. There are people who are technical users of our products, conceptual decision-makers, and financial decision-makers. Make sure that you are getting in front of all of them on every visit if possible. If there are other decision-makers who are part of the organization who oversee a different department but are not yet your customer, make sure you have a plan for how you are going to get in front of them during your visit. Arrange an introduction. Make sure you know when they are in. Have a reason to see them.
2. Know what you are going to talk to them about. As a manager of an account you have to manage many details. You have to remember when someone last ordered something and in what quantity, when you presented a quote and when you should expect to receive the purchase order, when someone told you “not right now” and when and why you should bring it back up again. . . Forgetting to remind someone that it is time to reorder, not following-up on a purchase order, not bringing new ideas to your customers’ attention will cost you a lot of money in the long run!
3. Give value every time. On every visit, you should plan to provide your customer with something of value. And, no, we are not talking about doughnuts or cookies! The value of that you provide should be relevant to the products you sell and the service you provide to them. Bring them an article that shares valuable education. Bring them a referral for the new employee they are looking to hire. Bring them an idea of how you can save them money. Show them a new product that will help save them time. Customers will not keep you around just because you are a nice guy and you stop by every week. People want to keep vendors around that are valuable to them. It is not your customer’s job to find a need for you, it is your job to make yourself irreplaceable.
Don’t waste valuable time, time that you could spend going after new business, driving to meet with customers without a plan. To get the most of your visit, prepare for it. Make it count.
Emmie Brown is an executive level coach and an expert in the Psychology of Scripting. Emmie started her career with The Southwestern Company as a student intern at the University of North Carolina. She continued to work with Southwestern over the next 10 years as a top producing sales manager until joining Southwestern Consulting in 2009. Emmie has spent the last 4 years traveling the country as a professional sales trainer, executive coach and business consultant with Southwestern Consulting and the Success Starts Now! conference series. She is also the author of the audio series Talk Less, Sell More and a breakout presenter at the Success Starts Now! sales training conference.