I blew it in my recent post The 16 P’s of Becoming a Leader in Marketing and Selling. I defined the 16 essential tasks in the job description of a Large Account Manager or Client Account Manager. It’s a good list. The list made me successful. But it’s incomplete. I omitted the two most important “P’s”.
I Took It For Granted
My excuse is that these two “P’s” are so intrinsic and crucial to our success as Marketers, Sellers, or Account Managers and have been accepted as crucial for so long, they’re so much at the core of what we do and must do as Seller-Doers and as leaders, that I took it for granted that I didn’t have to put them in the list. A client corrected me.
“Personal Relationship” Is New #7 On The List
Most Client Account Managers in professional services firms practice Relationship Selling. Relationship Selling begins with and can’t succeed without relationship building. The first “P” I omitted was to have a Personal relationship with your client. Get to know your client personally, as much as is appropriate. Make it clear that you want to be of service to the client and her firm, that you want to be useful over a very long term, and that you want to build a relationship. Ask earnest questions.
Earn The Client’s Trust
Earn credibility and the client’s trust by asking earnest questions about their company and their situation, not for the purposes of making a sale but for relationship building. Asking questions, earnestly inquiring of the other person, makes anyone feel valued and valid. Inquiring of the client and her firm makes you seem friendlier, more knowledgeable, more understanding. As Stephen Covey told us, “Seek first to understand.”
The Most Important Part Of Your Questions
The most important part of your questions? Leave lots of time for the client’s answers. When she’s done speaking, let a couple of beats go by before you speak. Maybe she will enlarge on her answers. Your questions are no good without her answers.
I recently wrote about my journey to building a client’s trust. Never forget that the client has loaned you the time to meet with her. You must use it to prove your genuine desire to help her personally.
“Pain” Is New #8 On The List
Now that you know your client and her situation better, we come to the most important “P”: you must discover – and deliver the cure for – the client’s Pain. There is the slimmest chance that the only problem or pain the client wants a solution for is the common problem occurring in her industry right now, or the current problem that brought you together at that convention. But if that is the only pain she’s telling you about, then one of these is true:
- All the other salespeople know her problem too, so you’re in a large crowd of competitors with nothing special to offer; i.e., you’re wasting your time, or
- You haven’t looked hard enough, your questions aren’t phrased well enough, or you’re not listening well enough to the answers.
Your Client’s Deepest Need
“Discovering the Pain” is what I call knowing your client’s deepest need. You’ll see it called that in my Relationship Selling posts. It appears all over those posts, so intrinsic to what we do that I didn’t put it on the “P’s” list initially. Discover your client’s pain through your presence and your patient earnest questions.
Skillful Questions to Discover the Deepest Need
- Make sure your questions don’t sound self-seeking.
- Stop short of wearing your client out with your questions; if you don’t stop early enough, she’ll feel manipulated.
- To keep her from feeling like she’s under a microscope, offer some insights and possible solutions along the way. Offer them graciously and make them brief.
- If you don’t know any solutions, say so, and ask her if she’d like to brainstorm. Try to make this a real conversation.
- Just make sure that you’re not just parroting the solutions you came there to “sell”.
So that’s new “P” #8 – discover and develop the cure for your client’s Personal Pain. Thank you to my client for asking me for this new post.
That brings the list to 18 P’s. Sounds long, but you can do it because it’s systematized. And you can teach the system to others too. Just stick with me, stick with us here. You can do this.
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