To support a consistently full funnel one mindset to take is thinking of our clients as prospects. By shifting our mindset that way we create two primary payoffs.
First, there’s a possibility that we could sell more to existing clients. The cliché about it being easier to sell to someone already buy from you is a cliché because it contains a grain of truth (provided we have those expansion conversations in a way that doesn’t make our client feel icky.
Second, by framing our client relationships as prospects we are more likely to keep saying and doing the activities that we said and did that prompted our client to start working with us originally.
Unfortunately, like in personal relationships over time we can start to take our clients for granted, especially if they’ve been with us a long time. The VP of a biotech company, who was a long term client before switching to our primary competitor, told me “your competitor kept showing up and making me feel wanted and you guys didn’t so I switched and don’t plan to switch back.”
One of David Sandler’s rules was “there are no friends in sales,” which can sound harsh; however, that doesn’t mean we can’t create deeper, personal relationships with our clients over time, but it does mean that no matter how close we are, we will always be a salesperson and they will always be a client or prospect. Plenty of clients we support have reached out for guidance after their “friend” who also happened to be a client switched to a competitor or asked our client for a massive discount “because we’re friends.” What our clients often discover is their “friend” was happy to work with them when they were getting sweet deals or free stuff (services, meals, trips, etc.), but didn’t value our client or the relationship enough to treat them as an equal.
Dating our clients starts with setting up a cadence of mutually agreed on touchpoints, including a quarterly review at the very least. Keeping a “fuzzy file” of articles, videos and other resources that relate to our client’s business and personal interests also creates a lot of rapport when we share those resources with them. For example, we may have zero interest in cake decorating, but if that’s our client’s passion it’s worth do a little research to find content that they might appreciate.
Another way to date our prospects is to make introductions to support areas of their business that don’t directly related to the services we provide. By being interested in their entire business, not just the part that puts money in our pocket, we move up from “vendor” to “trusted adviser” and create and extra layer of protection to our relationship should our competitors come calling.
Whether we’re on the “farmer” or “hunter” side of the sales spectrum proactive dating our clients keeps our funnel full and reduces churn.
Until next time… go sell something.