When you go to a doctor for a routine check-up, you might have several reasons for going, including:
- Discovering and addressing any significant changes in your physical condition
- Keeping your doctor informed regarding any external factors that could impact your health management
- Collaboratively creating and implementing an appropriate continuing care plan
For your sales team, these same types of goals can be important for the continuing health of your client accounts. But do you currently initiate and perform regular client check-ups to help you and your clients stay informed and engaged with the best sales solutions?
If you’re like many sales professionals, you may be falling behind in scheduling essential client check-ups. Here’s why that can be dangerous:
What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You!
Yielding to a cynical or pessimistic view, you might think that “no news is good news” and that you shouldn’t ask questions for which you fear the answers. Indeed, if you dig deep enough, you could learn that change is afoot – budget cuts, personnel changes, new products introduced, etc.
But isn’t it better to foresee those possibilities before they become realities? Isn’t it better to avoid being blindsided? Isn’t it better to operate from a position of knowledge and insight?
As with visiting the doctor, we often fear the worst and find ourselves pleasantly surprised when the truth is revealed. By having regular client check-ups, you can save yourself the stress of unwanted “surprises” and foster better communications and working relationships with your clients.
When Conditions Change, Adapt Your Sales Solutions
Knowledge is power. By actively seeking a client’s insights and opinions, you will be able to assess and adjust your solutions to meet the client’s current and near-term needs. Let’s face it – it is a rapidly changing world. Your client’s industry, marketplace and corporate culture are probably evolving, too.
So, should you merely sit back and assume that everything is the same as it was one year, two years or even five years ago when you made the sale? Frankly, it’s never a good idea to stick your head in the sand while storms swirl around you.
As with getting a challenging diagnosis from the doctor, it’s better to know and face a challenge head on. That way, you’ll be able to work with your client to assess your options and adapt the sales solutions to current conditions, if possible.
Even if your company can no longer serve the client given their new realities, your client will certainly appreciate your proactive concern for providing the best sales solutions. That appreciation can be shown in the form of referrals and new opportunities.
New Information Can Create New Sales
Speaking of new opportunities, understanding how your client’s needs have changed can sometimes create opportunities to enhance your current solutions. Maybe all the client needs is to move up to your next tier of product or service offering.
Or perhaps you can bundle services to create more complete and satisfactory sales solutions. You might find yourself with the opportunity to recommend an external but complementary solution to augment yours. When that happens, you keep the account, a trusted industry ally makes a sale and your client gets a better overall solution to address changing needs.
In all of these circumstances, you look good because you have exhibited real concern for finding the best alignment of products or services to help your client. But be careful: Don’t lead with an intent to “upsell.” If a higher-priced solution is appropriate, that’s great. But if it’s not, the client will soon discover that they’ve been “sold” something they didn’t really need. That never reflects well on you!
No Gown Required (How To Conduct That Check-Up)
So, if we can agree that conducting a periodic client check-up is a good thing, it begs two questions:
- How often is often enough?
- What is the best way to conduct a client check-up?
Only you and your sales team can truly determine how often to meet with each client for a comprehensive review of the client’s needs. In some industries, a quarterly review is appropriate. In others, you should meet with your client at least twice a year. In almost all cases, you should meet face-to-face with your client at least once each year for a focused discussion.
And while there might also be no hard-and-fast rules for the best way to conduct a client review, here are a few general tips:
- Set the right atmosphere. Distractions take away from the focus that you need for your client to have. Choose a well-lit, quiet place (preferably away from your workplace or the client’s workplace). Hotels, banks and libraries are among places that might offer suitable space.
- Invite all appropriate participants (from the client’s company and yours) who can address client account issues and alternatives. You don’t want an interested party that should have attended the meeting to undermine your solution after the meeting.
- Allow enough time, but do set a specific time frame. Within that time frame, follow an agenda to stay on topic and on task.
- Make sure the agenda reflects not only your objectives but also the objectives of your client.
- Listen, learn and adapt. Be constructive, not defensive.
The Bottom Line
To continue to be a trusted solution provider for your clients, you need to know what is going on in the client’s industry, marketplace and internal culture. By conducting a client check-up, you can listen and learn how their challenges have evolved, and then adapt your sales solutions if needed.
The likely result of the check-up? A healthier professional relationship with your client and continuing sales success for you and your company.