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Document Index

Why more than just relationship building is key to your success

Create and use a resource proclamation

Use effective questioning

Know where your clients are going and how they want to get there

Identify and focus on the value proposition

Understand the decision-making process

Monitor client wants and needs at all times

Give them what they need the way they want it

More Samples of My Opinion

Automated Customer Care
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Being a Better Manager
Customer Support Management

Highlight From My Past Employment

Client Communications
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CRM Specialist
CRM Glossary

7 ways to be an invaluable resource

If both you and your client expect to reach even greater levels of success, then you must have a strong and harmonious relationship between the two of you. Building and maintaining that relationship can take an enormous chunk of a sales professional's time and effort! Hereís some advice on how to really make that investment pay off.

Why more than just relationship building is key to your success

What skill do you feel is more important to sales success-consultative selling or relationship building? Most people answer relationship building. I disagree! I believe consultative selling creates the foundation from which profitable relationships are born. Did you ever lose businessÖ despite a relationship you thought was solid? If youíre like most of the people I work with, the answer is "yes."

Relationships will get you the appointment, but the consultative selling approach will get you the business. Once you stop acting in the consultative selling mode, you start taking the relationship for granted. You stop doing some of the things that made you invaluable- the things that got you the business in the first place.

How do you build a relationship around the consultative selling approach? First, you must realize that when I use the word "relationship," Iím not talking about "schmoozing" your clients. Iím talking about creating a kind of relationship that instills trust and confidence in what you can do for them. Iím talking about concentrated effort that goes into finding out what your clients need and how you can best deliver it to them. I'm talking about giving your clients the best overall value for the money they're investing.

Most of all, I'm talking about positioning yourself so that you can be the most invaluable resource your clients have. This is true whether you're tending to a current business relationship or prospecting for new clients.

During an initial interview, you have very little time to capture the attention of your prospective client. You must quickly send the right signals about what you can do for him or her. Therefore, you have to make a positive impact at the very beginning-- you must make your prospect sit up, take notice, and quickly conclude that you are like no other sales professional he or she has ever met before. You do this by positioning yourself as an invaluable resource.

You canít position yourself as an invaluable resource by title (sales professional) or product (insurance, computers, online services, etc). Positioning by these two methods only puts you in the same arena with all other sales professionals and no differentiating value. Instead, you must make it clear that you can help deliver at least one of these four outcomes:

Increased profits-- In other words, you must show how working with you will help your clients attain profits-- and profits, after all, are what supports the personís goals!
Increased productivity-- You must show how working with you will save your client time and money through the services you have to offer.
Reduced costs-- You must show how working with you costs your clients less money overall than working with your competition. The key word here is cost, not price. Your fees may be higher, but at the end of the day, if your clients realized a reduction in the overall costs they incurred in attaining their goals, youíre a better value. Costs include time, money and level of frustration.
Increased competitive advantage-- For commercial clients, this includes helping your clients maintain the competitive advantage by providing them with desired levels of return on investment.

Now that you know what you need to do to position yourself as an invaluable resource, how do you do it? Many people think clients only want the lowest price available. While price is an issue, it is not the driving issue in most cases. Clients want to be heard and understood! Here are seven ways to send that message-- and position yourself as an invaluable resource.

1. Create and use a resource proclamation

To gain a clientís attention, you must first focus on the results you offer your clients, not on your services. The results constitute the "what"-- what your clients can expect from a relationship with you. Your services constitute the "how"-- how you are going to help them get those results. You need a resource proclamation-- a statement you make that sets you apart from all other sales professionals and tells clients more about who you are than any title could ever do.

A resource proclamation outlines what you have to offer your client in a simple and direct manner. For example:

"I help clients achieve their life's goals through investments."

"I am a Life Advisor who specializes in money."

(These examples are taken from Bill Bachrachís Values-Based Selling book.)

Now, doesnít this sound more interesting and powerful than saying "Iím a sales professional" when someone asks what you do for a living?

A resource proclamation should Ö

  • Communicate the "what." Your proclamation should convey the bottom-line benefits and value your client will gain from a relationship with you, and should prompt your client to ask you for more information.

  • Be simple. Potential clients don't want to waste time listening to a long, drawn-out pitch.

  • Be memorable. Your Resource Proclamation must be strong enough to create a lasting impression that someone will be able to communicate easily to others.

2. Use effective questioning

The questions you ask of your prospects and clients comprise the most powerful tool you can use in positioning yourself as a resource, because they get the other person mentally and physically involved with you. The more you actively engage him or her in the process through effective questioning, the more they will trust and respect your judgment and abilities.

The right questions allow you, within a brief period of time, to send an essential message to your prospect or client early on in the relationship. The most effective type of questioning focuses on issues. Your client has challenges that need to be met, and issues that need to be addressed. By zeroing in on those concerns, you are much more likely to hold that person's attention and demonstrate that you can and will "be there" for him or her. One of the best ways you can preface such questions is by using the words "Please describe.Ö"

Good questioning breaks barriers. With existing clients, effective questioning makes it possible to identify other areas where you may further serve as a resource.

3. Know where your clients are going and how they want to get there

You are a partner in the achievement of your clients' goals. The minute you cease to be vigilant about what they want and need, you run the risk of losing them to someone else who will be more responsive to their needs or will do a better job of helping them reach their goals. Your objective is to serve as your client's "roadmap" by taking the initiative on his or her behalf.

4. Identify and focus on the value proposition

Your goal as a sales professional is to become a value-added partner in the achievement of your clients' goals. In essence, you have to prove to your clients that you are their best resource for getting them where they want to be. This means focusing on the value proposition that helps clients reach their goals, thus attracting new clients and keeping existing clients happy.

What is a value proposition? Itís a way of creating unique value for your client's investment by creating a mixture of key elements:

Information: The knowledge you possess about the events and trends in the areas of the most interest or concern to your client. Support: Your ability to provide the right kind of support, electronic or otherwise, to best service your clients' needs. Stability: The strengths you possess that provide additional comfort and value to your clients -- that is, what sets you apart from the competition. Service: Your ability to set up and implement superior solutions. Assets: Critical financial, technical, or interpersonal tools you can make available to clients in key situations.

5. Understand the decision-making process

You must acclimate yourself to the other person's way of thinking, so that youíre better able to understand and anticipate what will be needed to provide the best overall solutions.

Asking key questions of your prospect or client will help you to determine how he or she goes about making decisions and what effect that may have on the solutions you have to offer. By learning what issues affect your client's decision-making processes, you can appeal directly to those issues-- and no others. You can help to guide clients in their decision-making through issues-based questions that essentially answer one key question: "Where is this person trying to go and how is that destination likely to affect the decisions he or she is making?" Often, the client may be uncertain of his or her direction, which makes your guidance all the more valuable as they attempt to reach an informed decision.

What you learn about how a client makes decisions will tell you what goals and values are most important to that person, which in turn helps you to shape your communications and your solutions to those goals and values.

6. Monitor client wants and needs at all times

The principles involved in positioning yourself as a resource for prospects do not disappear once he or she becomes a client. You should be a resource at all times, not just when you are trying to sell a particular investment or strategy to your clients.

Existing business can and does provide even greater sources of revenue. Their loyalty to you and dependence on you as a resource-- as well as your loyalty to them and ability to focus on their wants and needs-- can result in profits for both of you. And they can also be a resource for you. If they're happy with the service you provide, they'll talk about you to others; and new business will definitely appear!

7. Give them what they need the way they want it

Communication is particularly important in this regard. We all want to hear things differently. The same piece of information may mean different things to different clients. After all, everybody has unique prejudices, pre-dispositions, and preferences. The trick in any form of communication is knowing what significance certain information will have to a particular client and then how to present it to him or her (or them if you are dealing with a group) so that it has the greatest possible appeal or value. This is true whether you're conducting an interview, giving a presentation, or even having an ordinary telephone conversation.

Remember: Whether you are communicating or whether you are taking direct action, you have to know from the start and throughout your relationship what exactly the client needs and how he or she wants it, and respond accordingly. Such attention to detail will establish you as an invaluable resource-- and set you apart from the competition!

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