Most everyone has heard the tome when you assume you make an ass out of you and me. Yet, in our day-to-day activities, do we take things for granted and assume the reasons why you have won a bid or a contract? Rick Reynolds, writing in Sales & Marketing Management identifies six assumptions that can be disastrous.
Relationships in sales are essential, but they are not the be-all and end-all. Similarly, writes Reynolds, don’t assume that your customers like you just because you have won their business. Was your showroom the lowest bidder or are you the tallest pygmy? Do you really know why your customers do business with you? Obviously having won a new customer or account gives you a leg up on the competition. Take advantage of the opportunity to show how you create value to multiple layers of your customer’s organizations. That requires an effective communication plan filled with compelling content.
2. We have a solid sales representative-customer relationship.
If the reason you won a company’s business is because of relationships with certain staff members, what happens if those staff members seek employment elsewhere? The same holds true if the person who hired leaves their company, what does that do to the status of your ability to maintain that relationship? Make sure that your relationships with your customers involve your entire company instead of primarily based on individual to individual.
3. Resolved problems may still be problems.
Problems create opportunities to show your worth and commitment to a client. Simply because a problem has been resolved does not mean that you are out of the woods. The impact of a mistake or poor performance may mask how a customer feels about you and their willingness to provide honest feedback. Make sure when you resolve problems, that you communicate what you have done to all parties involved and do whatever it takes to prevent recurrences.
4. Don’t believe that there is an open line of communications.
The stronger the relationship you have with a customer, the less likely they are to provide critical feedback. Be proactive in requesting performance critiques. If you don’t hear bad news or room for improvement, ask for guidance from your customers. “What do you see our biggest weaknesses to be? If you could change one thing about our company, what would it be? Reach out for the good and the opportunities to get better.
5. Don’t assume your sales staff will tell you of problems.
Your sales teams are the hood ornament of your organization in the field. That does not guarantee your staff will tell you give you an accurate picture of the relationship or problems that need to be addressed. Maintain open dialogues with your customers and actively seek guidance for improvement. It sends a message that the account is truly important to your firm and that you are interested in helping your client get better by you improving the quality of service that you provide.
6. Just because you have the business does not mean you keep the business.
Don’t assume you have customers for life. In today’s competitive world, everyone is looking to create more value and gain an edge. Complacency can be costly. Do you really deserve to keep the account? If not, act immediately. Nothing is a certainty.