In my last piece I explained why sales leaders need to clearly define what makes a customer ‘high value’ in order to begin encouraging the sales team to ‘think big’. This week, I cover some of the key tactics that can be implemented to further inspire this shift in mindset.
Broaden their minds
We always talk of the need to lead by example, and it is certainly true in this case. In order to get the team thinking beyond the norm and setting their sights on large value business, you need to demonstrate the benefits of doing so. And given that, as a leader, you are the member of the team most likely to have had previous experience of winning high value customers, you are the best person to provide them with concrete examples of large customers and the success, recognition and career advancement that comes to the people who land them.
Challenge them to think bigger and find customer disruption
It’s all too easy for sales professionals to become set in their ways, particularly if they feel their approach is working for them, but if they’re not landing those large value customers then their thinking needs to be disrupted. Leaders should be regularly challenging the team – in a productive manner. Get them to think outside the box by posing questions beyond sales forecasts and figures. What C-level issues are “hot” topics in their accounts that your solution can solve? Are there current clients who could benefit from a larger scale solution? Which new prospective clients have the criteria you can solve? By consistently challenging the status quo you will soon ingrain a new approach in the team.
Move the focus to the value your solution delivers
Return on Investment (ROI) is a term that is overused, but for high value customers, it’s these detailed figures that speak most to the decision makers. Get the team to focus on the demonstrable results that your solution delivers to clients, and ensure they are able to quantify this in measurable terms. This shift to a focus on numbers will help your sales professionals speak the language of high value customers. Getting customer agreement to the value your solution adds or the costs it saves in specific numbers with the customer is essential. Provide prospective customers the evidence of the value your solution delivers to your existing customers.
Build relationships with the customer ‘disrupter’
For every disruptive issue a customer faces, there will also be someone who sees a solution or a new way to work to solve the issue. This might seem counter intuitive, but the larger the scale and value of a project the more these people get engaged in external supplier solutions. By encouraging and coaching the sales team to identify and build relationships with these disruptive, visionary decision makers, leaders will be instilling a greater sense across the team as to how large value customer relationships should be handled.
Transition, coach and train the team
As stated above, coaching and training is key. While for smaller-value customers the solution can often speak for itself, with the larger deals a more robust business case is needed. Consistently going through the process of identifying the real drivers behind the customer purchasing decision with the sales team and working with them to use this information in the high value sales cycle will ensure your staff are fully equipped to land those big transactions. And if there is another member of the team with experience in this field, encourage them to become a mentor for the rest of the group.
Embed a multi-level contact approach
For large customers it is often difficult to juggle the multiple stakeholders involved in the decision-making process and it can be a struggle to identify who will have the final say. For this reason, sales leaders need to be encouraging the team to be in communication with multiple contacts across the business. In this way risks and opportunities that arise during the sales cycle can be validated and verified with the different customer contacts. The more your team work with a range of stakeholders across customer organisations, the chance of them being successful in a high value customer increase.
Finally, any sales leader will know from experience that the high value sales cycle is lengthy and open to set back. In order to keep motivation levels up, celebrating and recognising the small steps that are achieved in the process is crucial.