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“I Need An Excuse To Get Back Into The Customer”

by David Brock on April 30th, 2013

I hear it all the time, “I need an excuse to get back into the customer.  Let me get them that case study, that reference, that white paper, anything that allows me to meet with them one more time.”  Creating excuses to get back into the customer is nothing but old sales mythology.  It does nothing to serve us or the customer.

We’re all desperate to find customers willing to talk to us, willing to consider buying.  Once we find them, once we have a meeting, we won’t let go.  We want any excuse we can to get back into the customer, to keep having meetings.  Sometimes we design our meetings to create an excuse for another meeting.  All this does is take time–our time and the customer’s.  All this does is lengthen the sales cycle–maybe we’re just postponing the inevitable “No,” but in the least it lengthens the sales cycle.

We should stop creating excuses to see the customer.  In fact, we should do everything we can to reduce the number of meetings we need to have with the customer.  We should be compressing as much as reasonable into fewer meetings–we improve our productivity, more importantly we use the customer’s time much more effectively.  We have the opportunity to compress the buying/selling cycle–helping the customer realize the benefits far sooner. 

As we execute our sales process and our opportunity strategies, we will have a series of meetings.  We don’t need to create an excuse for additional meetings.  Each meeting needs to be focused and purposeful, enabling the customer to move through their sales process and us to move through the buying process.  Both the customer and we are better off with fewer, but impactful meetings, not unnecessary meetings.

“But if we do that, how do we get back in to see the customer when we need to?”

Here’s where the magic comes in.  If we stop creating excuses to get back into the customer, instead, try to reduce the number of times we need to see the customer–using their time much more effectively; we will always be able to get back into the customer when we need to.  See customers are smart, they get it.  They know you will never waste their time.  That when you are calling them, when you are asking for a meeting, it must be because you have something that is worth their investment in time.  We don’t need artificial excuses to get back in to see them.

Getting back in to the customer is never a problem if you create value in every interchange you have with them.  They will always be willing to see you because of that value you create.

You only need excuses when you stop creating value.  When you have nothing real to say, but you want to see them, you want to talk, you want to waste their time.  That’s why it’s tough to see customers.

Do your customers a favor.  Don’t look for excuses to get back in.  Spend your time trying to figure out how you can accomplish more, each time you see them–using their time well and yours.  They’ll get it, they’ll appreciate it.  They’ll reward you by opening their offices whenever you have something important to talk to them about.

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8 Comments
  1. David,

    Nice job! I like the way your BLOGS give me new ways of thinking.

    However, how do you feel about sending prospects news or white papers you find that may interest them. Not necessarily as a way to get in, but to show added value?

    Jim

    • Jim, thanks for the comment, I’m flattered.

      Prospects and customers alike are hungry for RELEVANT content–in multiple forms, blogs, newsletters, white papers, case studies, and so forth. Content is a critical part of developing and nurturing a relationship, building trust, knowledge, and confidence with the prospect or customer. Properly done, it will make the prospect more likely to contact you when they need you, or to take your prospecting calls.

      There are a couple of “gotcha’s” in what I’ve said. First it has to be relevant and meaningful. It should focus on providing insight and thought leadership (not a form of product advertising). It must be something the customer has opted into and wants, it can’t be SPAM. But it’s critical that companies have strong content strategies as part of their prospecting programs.

      What do you think?

  2. Providing value (not product) is indeed what it is all about. There are many ways to provide value to prospects so that you do become trusted and an asset. Offer recommendations outside your product set. Offer guidance as to broken processes that you as a vendor experience. Discuss new markets you think your prospects could enter. (Warning – self serving) Recommend prospects for business awards. All of these suggestions will add value to the relationship you are working to develop.

  3. As an experienced purchaser I appreciated when the sales people got in touch me in different ways on a regular basis, not only when they wanted to raise the prices… 😉

  4. Todd MacGrath permalink

    In my business as a third party sales agent, we represent many individual manufacturer clients. Each one often clamoring for more service and more value. Our organization has often coached our brands to notify us of new PR hits, new sales data, new updates…as you discuss, so we can notify the retail buyer and keep our products “top of mind”. Perhaps our process has passed its time?

    Great article. I have much to think about.

    • Todd, I’m so happy to see you commenting and participating here. I think things have changed, even in your industry. Keeping grocery customers aware of new products and so forth was very powerful. But now, they have so many other sources of information and confusion. Your customers are concerned about profit per cubic foot per day. Showing them how your selection of products helps improve that is powerful. The shift in consumer preferences to healthier choices, providing the grocers the capability to better respond to shifting consumer needs is also very powerful.

      The consumer is driving a revolution in food/health product choices–sometimes the retailer may not understand it or how they maximize their profitability in serving the customer by responding.

      To the degree your team can help them do this, it repositions you in their eyes and helps them improve their business.

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment. Hope to see you here often!

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