You’ve heard about this great new restaurant that you want to try but you’re not familiar with it…what do you do? You might go on Yelp to get additional information or ask your friends for help. Finally, once you’ve made the decision to go, you’ll load the restaurant address into your map app and hit the road. Common sense, right?
You’ve just received your annual revenue goals and you have your customer list and it’s a big number to hit…what do you do?
If you’re going to reach your destination, you need to have a roadmap and plan to get there…that’s true with both a restaurant and your sales revenue goals. You can’t ‘wing it’…you need to have a written Customer Action Plan (CAP). You can use CRM programs like Salesforce and others or you can even create your own CAP on a spreadsheet, but you need the plan.
Here are some elements to putting together great CAP’s that will help you to do a better job in providing solutions to your customers’ goals and challenges.
- Key Players
- Customer needs/goals
- Selling solutions
- Revenue action plans
Build Your Overview
It’s very important to create an overview of your current status and relationship with your customers. There are a couple of reasons for this:
- You need to establish a baseline in order to measure your progress with your customers.
- You need to be able to know your customers as well as you can in order to recognize when you may have a product or opportunity that will help them achieve one of their goals. You know your own company better than they do, obviously, and the better you know your customer’s company, the better value you will provide for them.
- You will be asked at some point by your management, or senior management, for your POV on where you are trending with your customer list…usually before one of the management team has a meeting with someone at your customer’s company. It will be in your best interest to be able to respond to the request quickly with your customer overview. Everyone at your own company assumes that you are the expert on this particular customer as they are on your list and responsibility. Make sure that you ARE that expert.
Know Key People at Customer’s Company
Many times, I’ve talked with salespeople, and even sales managers, who believe that they have a particular customer covered well because they have a good relationship, and are friends, with one or two buyers at that customer’s company. The reality is that this is a very dangerous bit of ‘wishful thinking’ on the part of that salesperson. Suppose that the one or two buyers that you are close friends with leave the company? Suppose they get promoted to another division within that company? Suppose they leave the buying side and go to the sales side? Suddenly, you are left high and dry with no key contacts. How do you prevent this from happening?
- Get to know as many people as you can at the customer’s company…not just a small group of buyers but people in a wide variety of departments.
- You can get to know this wider group of people by providing information or data that is valuable to them and can help them do their jobs better.
- I strongly recommend getting to know the wider group of people professionally before socially entertaining because you need to establish that you, as the salesperson, are not just selling something but are interested in solving the customer’s problem.
I was at a meeting last week when a senior level client mentioned that what she was looking for in a sales executive working with her was someone who could be an “industry impact consultant.” This means that the salesperson is so knowledgeable about the industry that the customer’s business is in that the customer looks forward to the sales meeting…and, in many cases, will request the meeting from you.
The ‘superstar’ salesperson is gathering information all the time and at every meeting. They are a resource because of their experience and ‘point-of-view’ expertise in their industry. The top salespeople are asked to speak on panels, give presentations at industry events, and to help the customer with their own internal presentations to their management.
Doing your homework and listening to your customer to understand their needs and goals will help you to utilize your industry knowledge best to provide true value…your customer will look forward to meeting with you as they know that they will learn something of value.
Next week, we will look more at understanding your customer’s organization, selling solutions/not products, and revenue action plans.