“I think a relationship is like a shark. It has to constantly move forward or it dies.” –

Woody Allen

What’s your focus on keeping and growing your existing clients?

A smart sales team doesn’t chase new clients at the expense of keeping and growing existing clients.

  • 80% of future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing clients–Gartner Group
  • It’s 50% easier to sell to existing clients than to new clients–Marketing Metrics
  • Repeat clients spend 33% more compared to new clients–CMO.com

“When attempting to generate a sustained increase in sales, the first place to start is with existing customers. Your selling investment is lower, you have an existing relationship, and you can leverage your efforts from other services and products you already have in place with your customer. This all works to your advantage if you are delivering best-in-class support. If you are not at this level, take the steps necessary to close the gaps.”

Rick Reynolds

What do you think is required to move your client relationships from good to great?

GOOD TO GREAT

In Jim Collins’ book Good to Great, the principles can be applied to how salespeople build relationships.

Take for example, the “Hedgehog Concept” which means having a simple, extremely clear concept of what is best in your business.

Do you have a simple and extremely clear plan when it comes to client retention?

Is what you’re doing right now with client retention something you can?

  • Generate incremental revenue and referrals from on an ongoing basis
  • Be passionate about
  • Be the best in the world at

The Hedgehog Concept is not about a goal to be the best, a strategy to be the best, an intention to be the best, nor a plan to be the best. It is a deep understanding of what you can be the best at. The distinction as it relates to client retention is absolutely crucial to catapult your success!

Let’s closely examine the three circles within the Hedgehog Concept. Set aside some quiet time. Reflect upon each question focusing solely on what you can potentially do better than any other sales rep. This can become your path to greatness.

How did that feel? This is the beginning of you becoming the best sales professional possible as you develop powerful client relationships. The best area to focus in on is where the three overlap. This is where you will have the most success.

CLIENT TRAGEDIES, THIS ISN’T A GAME!

On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your client knowledge and their experience? At your next Monday morning sales team meeting… challenge your team to a game of “Client Trivia.” You might be surprised by how much you know; on the other hand, you could be surprised by how little you know. I have a feeling the latter unfortunately holds true.

“If you don’t care for your clients and provide them an outstanding experience, I guarantee there’s somebody waiting in the wings to enhance the experience.”

Recently, I had a heart-to-heart conversation with a V.P. of Sales, the question was simple… How many current clients did you lose last year? The answer… 30! Ok, what was the financial impact? The answer… well over a $75,000 loss. I suspect it’s a lot more but we’ll roll with the number. On the flip side, there was a net gain of 30 new clients. However, these were small wins that didn’t compare to the bigger client losses.

The client experience… it’s up to you to manage. You may roll your eyes back at me on this one but think about others within your company. If this trend continues, how many people may lose their job?

Folks, your clients are the lifeblood to your company. The time is now to stop the leaky client bucket.

BUILD REAL CLIENT RELATIONSHIPS

Your clients are much savvier then in years past. They expect you to pay attention to them. They also have instantaneous and much louder methods of voicing their displeasure as well as the support they’re getting from you.

“Greatness as a sales rep is a conscious choice and a discipline”

The oldest, most effective strategy is as powerful today as it’s ever been; real relationships. Relationships enhance revenue opportunities, relationships sell, relationships bring in connection and human acknowledgment.

Get Real, Get Results… in our Relational Selling workshop, it’s all about building client trust.

  • The Power of Relational Selling
  • Discovering Your Authentic Self
  • Uncovering The Person Your Clients and Prospects Want to Know
  • Socially Surround Your Client Base
  • Building a Relationship Funnel

I urge everyone in sales to get engaged. Create marital bliss with your clients. Shift your mindset as engaged relationships translate into increased sales opportunities. Build true relationships, not just one-sided affairs and watch as your sales skyrocket.

3 PATCHES TO STOP LEAKY BUCKET SYNDROME

The investment you make isn’t about money, it’s in the relationships you build with your clients. These relationships become sales currency. I encourage you to invest in the relationship economy. You can take this one to the bank!

PATCH 1 – AUTHENTICITY

How many sales reps build a brand around a facade? Far too many! They feel like they have to act a certain way, appear a certain way and even communicate a certain way.

Relationships are based on trust and trust is based upon authenticity. Your clients B.S. meters are extremely sensitive. They can spot insincerity a mile away. Unless you’re authentic in your relationships, your clients aren’t going to trust you. In fact, they’ll actively avoid you as they spread the message to all their friends and colleagues.

Your authentic you must be a genuine reflection of who you are. You must believe it. You must own it. You must know what it stands for. You must know your strengths and your weaknesses. Proudly wear those emotions on your business sleeve.

People connect with other people. It is all about the personal connection. If you are ‘blowing smoke’ up your clients backsides what’s the likelihood they will trust you?

“Authenticity is a Magnet”

PATCH 2 – STOP BEGGING

Developing new or expanding upon existing business relationships is not about selling – it’s about establishing trust, rapport, and creating value without selling.

Engage with your clients, communicate with them, add value to their business, solve their problems, create opportunity for them, educate them and inform them, but don’t drop the sales hammer on them all the time!

Stale sales experiences and disciplines simply die a slow and very painful death.

What do a loaf of bread left out on the counter for days and the sales experience that most in sales provide have in common?

Left untouched they both become stale.

What’s concerning me about sales reps today, whether you believe me or not, is the lack of truly building genuine relationships. In other words, just plain giving a rip! Stop begging and bugging your clients to buy from you when you’ve done very little to enhance the experience.

“If you want to increase sales revenue, increase profitability, increase client satisfaction, drive brand equity, stop selling so damn hard and start adding value”

PATCH 3 – PUT ON YOUR LISTENING EARS

Successful sales reps listen.

“There is so much you can learn when you just listen”

Listening is the key to becoming a powerful sales rep inside the relationship economy. Developing excellent listening skills separates the good from the great. When you listen to your clients and prospects you uncover their pain points, their business goals, their personal data; all this to do one thing – strengthen the relationship.

When you don’t listen you miss all the critical material to build a meaningful relationship.

Sales reps must become proactive listeners. Only 13% of customers believe a sales person can understand their needs. If a sales rep doesn’t understand their prospect’s problems, issues or initiatives, how can they sell them a solution? How can they retain their clients?

Ask questions learn about their needs, challenges and their pain points. Ask open-ended questions to get information, peel it back even more and probe for clarification. Summarize and repeat back what they’ve said to show you were listening and that you’ve accurately understood their business problem.

IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU!

It’s not about you, your company, your products nor your services. It’s about meeting your client’s needs while adding value. Start paying more attention to them by building real authentic relationships. Soon you’ll find out you no longer have a leaky client bucket.

The single most important factor in creating additional sales experiences – become a relationship engineer. If you don’t engineer absolutely everything around your client, your client relationships will vanish right before your very eyes.

Don’t be just become another vendor, become a trusted advisor and advocate. You can do it!

Larry Levine

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