What Are Your Clients Saying About Your Sales Experience?
A lot of businesses I’ve worked with make a critical mistake: as soon as clients have signed a contract they are handed off to an implementation, account manager, or most popular today, client success manager. When that happens, sales teams stop caring. Bluntly, this is a huge, missed opportunity. In fact, in my opinion, that’s when relationship-building should kick in to high gear. When it comes to winning repeat business, Gartner determined that about half of the decision is based on the sales experience
. That’s double the impact of winning new business which is found to be at 25% of the decision.
Feedback, good or critical, is priceless. But waiting for your net promoter surveys or client satisfaction results, is too late. Leaders would be well served to focus on ensuring that relationships are still built with clients after they’ve signed on the dotted line. When it comes to the possibility of expanding and deepening the relationship, nothing is more important. They also have the potential to connect you with other clients, inside or outside their organization (like I wrote about in my article about Referrals
a few weeks ago). Clients can provide valuable insight into the Sales and Customer experience. They are financially invested in your success and, if asked correctly, they should be willing to share ideas and pain points from their time in your pipeline.
As you think about your Sales Organization’s feedback process (or lack thereof) for existing clients, consider the following questions:
- What questions are you asking your clients? Go beyond the generic “how have things been, how are things going.” Be specific. Ask about how well you delivered on your promises. What expectations are met or not? How well did you match to their decision criteria? What do they regret or see in hindsight that you can help with now? You’re aiming for the sweet spot between too much and too little: too many questions and they’ll lost interest but too few questions (or too broad) and the feedback may be empty and worthless.
- Are you creating space for them to provide their honest, candid opinions? Some clients may want to fill out an anonymous survey, while others may want to speak candidly with the person who they worked most closely with through the sales process. Regardless, make sure there is space for the client to provide the kind of feedback that can be put into practice and deliver value for your future prospective clients.
- Are you asking the right players? Sometimes, the person who served as the point of contact may not be the right person to ask. Their teams or sometimes their supervisor may have had more interface with the process – it’s their feedback you really want.
- How frequently are you asking? You need not ask every prospective client who was in your pipeline at some point, but you also shouldn’t ask only those that are converted to clients. Hearing from those who ultimately didn’t buy can be just as insightful as feedback from those that did.
Once the deal is sealed, it’s easy to move on to the next target. But businesses who seize the opportunity to solicit feedback are more likely to build better customer relationships and provide a better, more attractive experience for prospective clients. Consider it an investment in your process – my bet is that it will prove to be worthwhile.
Is Your Listening Hurting Your Productivity?
A few weeks ago I spoke at a virtual conference for the Minnesota Society of CPAs about increasing productivity. I discussed how leadership skills – not time management systems – were part of the key to their ability to accomplish more. I certainly didn’t insult them or suggest them to be slackers. But I did highlight how I’ve observed many leaders undermine their own effectiveness by not really working hard when they need to. Point #1 on the day was to Listen Like A Leader.
Here’s what I’m talking about. You have undoubtedly been in meetings, videoconferences, and calls where people are talking in unproductive ways. Tackling too many topics at once, taking multiple tangents of other topics, providing more extraneous information than is needed, or rehashing previously made points. In the spirit of politeness and inclusivity (both admirable), leaders get lazy by simply allowing someone to talk for as long as they need to. Meanwhile, you are likely getting lost in thought, your emails, or something else. None of that is polite or inclusive to all participants, it isn’t good meeting management, and it doesn’t demonstrate strong leadership.
So, as a leader, you can work harder to be more engaged in what others are sharing, and you can do so politely while ensuring everyone is heard. It requires attentiveness and doing these three things:
- Clarifying: Staying involved and ensuring the points being made are clear to everyone. You can say, “I’m hearing 3 different points from you, they are [repeat them]…is that right?” When people are thinking out loud, you as the leader can help reign in and focus the ideas.
- Confirming: Your ability to align your team is always front and center for leaders. Confirming your understanding and ensuring there is a shared understanding of what’s been presented, has great value.
- Acknowledging: Making sure people are heard and understood, even when they are going off topic can help you get refocused. “I get that this is important, and appreciate you raising the topic. I’d prefer we stick with our original agenda today and find another time to revisit this idea.”
These skills require both directness and subtlety. Interrupting and doing too much will create an atmosphere of controlling leadership, which is universally hated. But the other end of the spectrum leads to lengthy and counterproductive meetings. So, as a leader, focus intently on what’s being said. Forget about what you think for now, and drive a focus on understanding and creating a shared understanding. It’s much more difficult and requires considerably more attention than just letting people talk ad infinitum. But isn’t that part of what you are there for?
We have a lot to learn from leaders who start and scale their businesses. I enjoyed this interview with Mailchimp Co-Founder and CEO Ben Chestnut, and thought his 12 nuggets of leadership wisdom were particularly important to remember as we enter into a busy spring and summer season. With more change on the horizon, give this piece a read and reflect on how these pieces of advice might apply to your role and leadership: