HOW TO GET BACK INTO AN IMPORTANT BUSINESS OR SALES OPPORTUNITY ONCE YOU HAVE BEEN ELIMINATED
This is a question that I am asked quite often.
Independent representative sales agencies can often face this issue when taking on a new product or service line.
It is important to understand what causes this situation to begin with.
There can be a combination of several causes.
1. Pricing was extremely too low giving an impression of lack of quality
2. Pricing was too high because you quoted the wrong thing or that you were not quoting the same package of products or services as your competitors, or just that you were higher than all competition
3. Your company was not well known and the customer did have confidence in you
4. Lack of business relationships within the customer
5. Lack of a thorough understanding to the customers detailed needs and concerns and how to meet and exceed all of them
It is my experience that a sales or business opportunity is lost due to a combination of the above list of causes.
I can remember personally booking a large sale and business opportunity due to my business relationship approach.
Several of the key contacts in the customer told me that I got the order not because I had the best product, service and price but because I showed them respect and a caring to understand their needs and concerns.
My competitor in this situation had just visited the account as a team.
The competitors mid to senior management accompanied their field sales management staff on the visit.
According to the customer, the management staff of the competitor focused on how great their products and services were and that the account would be foolish to talk with or consider anyone else.
The competitor’s management showed no interest in the accounts needs and concerns, and only showed their self ego and being boastful.
The customer indicated that they were insulted with such an approach especially from the potential vendor’s mid to senior management who should have known better.
As I often explain, most sales opportunities have a minimum of 3-5 key contacts or individuals that are both decision makers and influencers.
If these individuals are not uncovered and personal conversations take place with each to discover all of the customer’s needs and concerns, there is a very high risk that you will not be successful in obtaining a business relationship nor a sale.
If the customer or account is important; or if the sales opportunity is large, the number of key contacts can be as many as 7-12.
The contacts can range from engineers, quality control, R & D, legal, shipping & receiving, warehouse, buyers, merchandisers, marketing, sales, distribution, the accounts key customers, and more.
The individuals will be at all levels; assistants, junior, mid and senior.
The needs and concerns of the customer can span far beyond the products and services that you may be offering for sale.
Your products and services may help the customer in many ways including;
1. help save the customer money
2. help the customer avoid costs
3. help the customer decrease their cost
4. help the customer enhance their position in the market and with their customers
5. help customer gain more value in their products & services offered into their market
6. help the customer to avoid some unpleasant or difficult issue
7. help the customer gain a competitive edge over their competition
8. help the customer to gain entry into a new niche market
9. and so many other possible things
The only way to uncover all of the possible needs and concerns that your products and services may be able to help with, you need to be communicating with many individuals within an account to uncover the possibilities.
This approach is what gives you a competitive edge, substantiates your pricing & value, and helps build the business relationships to be successful in booking the sale.
When you have been eliminated from a business or sales opportunity, many of the above required actions was probably not done correctly or maybe not even done at all.
The optimal approach is to do all of the above actions correctly that lead to a successful sale and developing a good business relationship.
This does not always happen though due to the lack of skilled sales staff, lack of skilled sales management, lack of adequate sales support, and a lack of a sales management process that assures that all of the actions are done correctly.
If you are encountering a situation like this and being asked to try to get back in to revive the business opportunity, I can assure you that this is a difficult situation but not an impossible one.
Identify all possible key influencers and decision makes in all departments of the customer. Be “creative” and “outside the box thinking”.
As a team approach from your side, utilize your staff support available.
Contact all possible influencers & decision makers to uncover more needs and concerns.
Have your warehouse manager contact their warehouse manager, your service manager contact their service manager, your company attorney contact their company attorney, your QC manager contact their QC manager, your purchasing manager contact their purchasing manager, your shipping manager contact their shipping manager, your marketing manager contact their marketing manager, your national accounts director contact their national accounts director, and so on and so on. Be creative, “out of the box” to explore extensively. Everyone on your team can be helping and contributing.
Dig deep to explore possible needs and concerns.
If you uncover more needs and concerns plus successfully develop some new business relationships within the customer during the process, you have a good chance to start the evaluation process all over again with you having the advantage this time.
Create & uncover important information that dramatically changes the situation and that will force a new appraisal that substantially includes you.
If such an approach has not uncovered any additional needs and concerns that changes the situation, you can hope that that the key individuals in the customer change and that the new contacts give you a chance to get back in.
The traditional approach of trying to get back in with a lower price will only encourage the customer to ask your competitor who is now the selected preferred vendor to lower their pricing.
The main point of this article is to show you how to successfully build business relationships and uncover the many needs and concerns of customers that will lead you to more successful sales.
This of course is to help you avoid being needlessly eliminated from sales opportunities.
Trying to get back into an account after being eliminated is a difficult situation and one that can be avoided with a more professional approach as outlined in this article.