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Perception is reality. So what do your clients really think of you? Would you be happy with how they perceive you? Are they thinking any of the following when they think about you and your company?
I’m so glad I’ve met you; my life/business is better off for knowing you.
Oh that guy (gal), yeah they’re pretty good
They’re nice, but I don’t always have the time to chat with them
That arrogant so and so…
Aghhh, I don’t trust them, get them out of my office now
Good relationships take time and effort to build and create something really valuable and viable. To the client, having a relationship with a Salesperson, Business Development Manager, or Account Manager, who sells to them and manages their account means very little unless they perceive that we actually bring real value to them and the business relationship.
Our real mission, as sales professionals is to find out what Value means to each of our clients and, in turn, have them find Value in us, our team, our products/services, and the company that we represent.
However, as much as we would like to have a great relationship with all of our clients, we do not seem to be able to achieve this with 100% of them. It’s a bit like our friendship groups: some are our closest or best friends whom we love to spend time with, while others are acquaintances whom we see occasionally and do not value as much as we do our best friends. Often this is because we do not know them well enough to be best friends or we don’t have the time or inclination to progress it any further.
Do you ever get the feeling that your client relationships get stuck in a rut, or that they do not value you as much as you value them? We often say ‘If only they could see what we can really do for them, things would be different.’
How you are perceived by your clients is critical to your success with them. If you do not like how you are currently being perceived by your clients, there are things you can do to change that.
Different client perceptions and how to manage them:
The following table aligns customer perceptions of you and your product/service with the expected behaviours you are likely to see from them. It then offers tips about what to do to shift the perception to a better place.
As clients, we all like to buy from those we trust; we need to trust both the individual and the company they represent. The other day our team at Barrett was discussing how our clients perceive us and what they really like about us (based on their feedback and testimonials), and the overwhelming theme was that they really valued our straight talking, no BS, tell-it-like-it-is approach, our ability to de-mystify things, and our ability to map a pathway forward to success and appropriately equip them and their teams for the journey ahead. That doesn’t happen by accident. We have to earn the reputation.
How to earn trust and create value:
There are a number of things we can do that will help engender that trust and build highly effective client relationships based on real value:
◦Be open and honest in all communications
◦Keep the customer informed of processes, knowledge, market information, new products and ideas, etc.
◦Be interested in their business
◦Be a real professional and help them define what ‘Success’ will look like
◦Create and offer a planned approach for change
◦Use your business acumen & commercial awareness to offer ideas and make good decisions
◦think about possibility and help realize real results
◦above all be consistent – consistently good.
About the Author:
Sue Barrett is a sales expert, business speaker, adviser, sales facilitator and entrepreneur and founded Barrett Consulting to provide expert sales consulting, sales training, sales coaching and assessments. Her business Barrett P/L partners with its clients to improve their sales operations. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (+61) 3 9533 0000.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author. CPSA does not endorse any of the companies, products and services mentioned within this article.
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