Are you present with your clients? What the heck does that mean, anyway? To me, it means being “there” with a client and facilitating a conversation about THEIR needs as opposed to prematurely addressing YOUR products and services. Bringing real value to your clients requires a level of awareness and attention not all sales people demonstrate.
Here are a few things to think about:
- How present are you to your clients? How aware are you of their needs?
- Are you more interested in meeting your client’s needs or fulfilling your own need to make the sale or achieve quota?
- Do you truly understand your clients’ needs?
- Are you willing to walk away if a competitor can do the job better and/or less expensively than your company can?
If you responded with a resounding “Yes” to these questions, you either have great business relationships with your prospects and clients or you are on your way. If not, read on.
At FranklinCovey, we teach a principle called the “Paradox of Success”: We will be most successful when we concentrate first on the success of our clients, then on our own success. Easier said than done, right? We all have to sell our products and services and meet quota. Our professional goals do not always seem compatible with this seemingly altruistic approach to client interaction. Yet research tells us that top-performing sales people fully embrace it. As a result, they build trust and long-term engagement with their clients and enjoy sustained and profitable business relationships.
What can you do to be more present with your clients?
- Ask yourself before you walk in the door, “What is my intent?” If your answer is self-motivated, rethink your intent and your approach.
- Listen carefully as the client talks about what they need. Reflect what you hear back to the client periodically so he or she knows you are present.
- Suspend judgement and the need to talk about your solution first so you can truly learn what your clients need and desire.
- Don’t just listen for an opening to talk about your product or service. If a client asks you for a specific solution, see if you can move off the solution and toward deeper understanding of the needs. Acknowledge the client’s request and ask them for clarification. Many clients will welcome the opportunity to be better understood. When you have successfully uncovered a client’s true issues and the relative importance of each one, you can offer them a value proposition that exactly meets their needs.
- Once you engage your client in a healthy dialog, structure your conversation to make sure you have covered and understand all their needs, wants, and limitations.
As you learn to listen well (and be present), you will become a trusted advisor committed to finding mutual benefit with your clients. Additionally, you will be able to identify clients with little potential earlier in the sales cycle and move on to those with whom you can find mutual benefit.