C-Level Selling Tips - Keep Competition Out of Your Key Accounts
1. Competitors are constantly approaching your top
customers and their C-level executive staffs with offers of
better, easier, and cheaper. If you're nothing special to the
high ranking staff you're vulnerable to replacement. If any
of the staff had missed expectations, you'll be talked
about negatively and again vulnerable. If you haven't
stayed in touch reinforcing your ability to assist with
opportunities or mitigate threats in their business or job
functions, you're not top of mind when competition
promotes how they can be of better service. So if any of
the above are in play, then so is your competition.
2. Maybe after a sale you do a "Thank You" thing, i.e. send a
note, invite some of the staff to a dinner or a round of
golf, and you feel the relationships are solid professionally.
Sales people tend to treat professional relationships the
same as social relationships. They assume two people are
close and one would not betray the other.
3. Well you're only tight professionally if each of these
customer's people sees the benefits professionally
working with you. That is, they see solutions with
you, and/or their expectations are being met, and/or
you're top of mind when opportunities or threats emerge.
If you're tight socially, you'll be top of mind when it comes
to socializing, but not necessarily when it comes to buying
or seeking advice.
4. The belief that social relationship will thwart or keep
competition from penetrating is the biggest mistake sales
people make. However, providing professional benefits as
outlined above is guaranteed to stop competition at the
front door. The ugliest scenario is when your request for
meetings are ignored while your invitations for social
events are accepted.
5. So here are some questions to get you thinking about the
status of your professional relationships.
6. 1. Do you follow-up with all decision makers and their
staffs to make sure all expectations are being met, and to
solidify that you are something special. Or are you
assuming you do a good job, and they feel the same way.
7. 2. Do you have information share meetings with your
customers' profit center leaders and their staffs to share
new technologies and case studies with the intent to
inform rather than sell?
8. 3. Do your meetings and relationships at high levels fade
after the sales or the projects end?
9. 4. Do you monitor successes of old sales and projects and
query senior managers to see if their expectations are still
10. 5. Have you ever replaced a competitor even if they have
good relationships? How did you do it?
12. 1. Suppose your best customer said he really likes your
competition. What would you do to get the profit center
leader and his staff back on-board with you? a. Now
before it happens, set the dates to enact those actions. A
preemptive strike is more useful than a defensive plea.
The defense may hold (or not), but the relationship will
take a serious blow.2. How would you penetrate a
competitor's customer strongholds?a. Now based on these
actions, what defenses would you put in play to prevent
competitors penetrating your customers.
14. 1. For your biggest customer what are the interests and
issues of each executive? It's got to come from the horses'
mouths. So start interviewing each on a 30-90 day
rotation. Realize issues/expectations are different change -
some slowly and some often.2. Subscribe to "News
Release" a service on the internet. It's free and will keep
you abreast of what's going on with your customers'
companies.3. Find experts to bring to the next meetings
who will provide information your customer's senior staff
will appreciate? Be sure to investigate what will be
appreciated.4. Pick professional venues that will be