Holding Customers Accountable

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We’ve all been there many times. You want to win the customer’s business but at some point the customer becomes evasive, non-responsive or otherwise they just don’t hold up to commitments. Is it possible to hold customers accountable? Or, are we destined to a life of service and entertainment – one where prospects and customers own all the cards and we just pretend to be in control from time to time?
At Empowered Sales, we focus on the the power of customer intimacy as a sales strategy. Bear hug the customer and they’ll not only tell you what the winning hand needs to be, they’ll tell you when to play which cards. But, how does that translate into holding customers accountable?
Customer intimacy recognizes the most important step in the sales process: qualifying. If you are truly intimate and knowledgeable about your prospect or customer, you’ll have insight into the wants, needs and desires of the organization and key decision makers. That insight will drive your sales tact.
But what about new prospects? You may have done your research and you know who the players are, but galvanizing them to your sales process and the review of the proposed project can be a real challenge.
I’ve witnessed dozens of sales representatives over the years who left a prospect meeting feeling joy and excitement about the “fit” of their solution. The meeting seemed like such a success that it was all the salesperson could think of for the next several days. In fact, many times the sales rep had already spent the commission. Only to call the prospect a week later to move forward and the prospect has trouble even remembering the meeting.
It’s a brutal world. Prospects may seem like they are partnered in the discussion but their followup and responsiveness can dwindle quickly. There are no hard set answers to these challenges – no single solution that works in every situation. But, I do believe that you should strive for commitment from the prospect, at every step. Upon booking the meeting, gain the prospect’s commitment to the planned length of the meeting and their readiness for the discussion. In the meeting, gain agreement on the followup cycles and availability. Be specific – prospects appreciate precision.
But what happens when the prospect isn’t willing to meet for the specified period? Or more commonly, they become unresponsive at some later stage. As a sales professional, I don’t like to play the chase game and neither should you. If you are caught chasing prospects, you need to realize that you should have more prospects in your funnel – so you can abandon those that are not willing to partner in the process.
Many sales professionals feel that selling is about service and entertainment. Granted, there are lots of situations where you do need to demonstrate extreme respect and courtesy to your prospects or customers. However, if the prospect is not being true to the expectations and agreements you’ve made along the way, I say hold them accountable. You don’t have to take their head off, but get off your knees and express your true feelings. Let the prospect know that they committed to something and now are not following through on that commitment.
There are two benefits to holding customers accountable. 1) It’s therapeutic. It really is. Letting a prospect know how you feel is cleansing for any sales professional. You may lose a prospect but you’ll be rewarded with self-respect. 2) Future prospects will recognize your expectation for follow-through. They’ll smell it the same way animals smell fear. That recognition will help to ensure that future prospects deliver on their commitments.
Hold customers accountable and you’ll develop more self-respect. You’ll also discover that your future prospects are partnered in the process. That will lead to better relationships and increased revenues.
Empowered Sales offers custom programs for sales success. We leverage deep personal experience, gems from industry icons, classic sales methodologies and innovative practices to empower sales success.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Kevin Graham
Kevin Graham is an author, speaker and expert on empowerment, sales and leadership. As managing director of Empowered Sales Training, Kevin works with organizations to empower sales success. Formerly, Kevin was a top performing sales executive in the ultra competitive technology sector. He's qualified for President's Club status in three Fortune 500 companies, carried the Olympic Torch and played in a national championship.

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