How do you go about differentiating yourself to your clients and prospects? I’m not talking about standing out from your sales-engineering competition. I’m talking about just plain Standing Out as a sales-engineering expert.
How are you going about being the sales-engineering Supplier or Vendor of Choice and placing yourself Top of Mind for your clients and prospects?
It’s easier to build from your existing client base. And clients are a great source of referrals for new business development. So why make things harder on your business development strategy than the economy is already doing?
It takes more than just being on-call 24/7 and bending over backwards to provide what your company perceives as “client service.” Sometimes this type of effort is seen as nothing more than reactive, crisis management. And this tactic places you and your company firmly in the “Mr/Ms Fix-it” category.
Here’s a checklist of how you can serve your clients which can result in your being the individual and the company of choice for new business development.
- Determine your sales-engineering geography. Make it easy for your clients and your prospects to do business with you.Keep things simple. Keep discussions succinct.Stay on mark and on topic. Have discussions that are easy to understand and relevant to your clients’ and prospects’ needs. Ask questions that require more than yes/no answers. Provoke them to spin out tactical concerns into broader-based considerations. See how big of an environment any decision they have to make falls into. Grand Canyon or just a pothole?
- It’s not about constantly closing. Be more than a portal for sales of your company’s products and services. Your clients and prospects aren’t going to call you back if they feel you will manipulate their discussion into your self-serving sales spiel. You shouldn’t constantly be selling or closing. You should be listening to your clients and prospects. Root causes can have some fairly extensive contexts, if you keep listening instead of jumping into problem-solving mode the minute a problem is defined.
- Jump over onto the client side of the table. Get on the same page with your clients and prospects. What’s motivating you (business development) may not be what’s motivating them in seeking your counsel (cash flow, personnel, infrastructure, an ERP system, etc.). If you don’t know what’s holding your clients and prospects up on making decisions to do business with you, take the time to do so. There’s more to their business life than doing business with your company.
- Become top-of-mind before clients and prospects make a decision.Are you the go-to guy or gal for your clients and prospects? Are you a resource for them on business, marketing and engineering trending? Are you a sounding board? I’m not talking about giving away expertise. However, business discussions involve factors and knowledge beyond the tactical engineering problem at hand. Are you keeping up with current events outside of engineering? You’ll be more interesting to yourself, let alone your clients and prospects.
Becoming an expert by increasing your knowledge of the business environment adds to the value of your engineering expertise.Sometimes it’s simply a matter of reading the newspaper on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s a matter of participating in LinkedIn groups and reading relevant blogs, such as this one. The sum total of increasing your knowledge about the business environment in which your clients and prospects are making decisions is critical to your differentiation. Plus, who doesn’t want to get a better sense of the dynamics of the marketplace?
Want to get on your clients’ and prospects’ A-List? Decide that you deserve to be on that list. Then go about rounding out your expertise and perspective to earn your place at their table.
Think about it.