Fast little loans
“I had a client who was interested in our product for the longest time. I kept in touch, but just found out yesterday that we lost the business to another company. Any tips on how I can go about winning them back?”
This was the body of an e-mail from a sales team mate, who had just returned from a not-so-great client meeting.
Let me say I commend her on doing the right thing: first, being strong enough to reach out for help from her team, and second, for having the courage and energy to work on the client relationship, even though another company had landed the business in the short term.
This is when the game of sales starts to get interesting.
Rejection and losing a deal are part of the sales process.
The thing that separates the big cats from the kittens is that so many salespeople people bow out of the game when they hear a no.
The strong few, the sales gurus and dedicated sales professionals, will take no as an opportunity to improve and fight back.
Once won, they will vow to keep the client forever – through outstanding service.
Bouncing back from a no is a sales fundamental to be embraced and practised (more so at the beginning of your sales career, when you tend to get more of them).
As I read my colleague’s e-mail, I put myself in her shoes and asked: what would Raelene – sales guru – do after a client says no?
I’ve made a little list:
1. Respectfully ask the prospective client why I lost the business, making sure I fully understand the reasons and encourage them to be open and honest (making sure I don’t make them feel like it’s an investigation, but rather a personal improvement exercise). Chances are that they will be more than happy to help).
2. Ensure that I list everything they tell me in point form, so I am absolutely clear on what to improve, and so I can systematically work through all points.
3. Get permission to stay in touch, through marketing material, a phone call or a coffee pop-in.
4. Use my touch-base sessions to keep abreast of what their priorities are (even though another company is meeting their needs at the moment).
5. Give them space and then set up a time when I can openly ask “how the other provider is serving them” and share stories about where our company is, and how we have continued to help similar organisations to theirs.
6. Concentrate on building a comfortable, enjoyable relationship (without the selling pressure), so that when the buying cycle comes again (which it always does), you are already in their face as a valued colleague.
In the world of long-term relationship sales, I try to live by the following mantras: “People love to buy from people they like” and “In an unequal world, people buy from their friends. In an equal world, people still buy from their friends.”
l Raelene Rorke is an account manager, at Avocado Vision. Contact them at Avocado Vision 011 614 0206.