Become a Customer Advocate Inside Your Organization

Advocate, Listen and Ask

Asking and Listening, that’s not in my job description, Selling is.

David, you have hit on a great point, however most of your industry peers, certainly not your equals do not know how to listen; nor do they know it is something they should do. I remember one of my first frustrating experiences with a sales professional. I still remember his name, his company and his failure.

In his eyes and in the eyes of his firm, the only failure was that there was no deal closed. However, Kevin did not have any ability to listen to the customer expressing that the configuration of his offering did not match my my needs. Kevin worked for “big-tech.” His sales pitch was scripted and his demeanor was both professional and unbreakable. When I expressed that I did not want to buy his product the way it was configured and packaged, his response was to repeat the same failed statement as if the more times he said it, would eventually become true or I would become enlightened.

Kevin’s employer had created this environment and the specific condition, no flexibility to work with the customer and a powerless sales resource engaging with the customer. Kevin did not get it, and probably has not to this day, 18 years later. Kevin was soon removed from the account and another knight in shining armor soon arrived, replacing Kevin and promising me the world. In the last 12 months I’ve had 3 reps from that company alone (Colleen, Anne and now Joyce). You may all be thinking of which firm and swearing you know exactly which one it is, however, I know who you are thinking of, and in this case, you are wrong. That particular big tech firm does hold the record in my book and I’ve had a new rep at least every 12 months for nearly 20 years.

Every new sales person has the same story and they are all “gone” come January. Your role is, most importantly to be the customer advocate inside your organization, to build long standing relationships with many people, and to get to know the customer firm in detail. Then to be there to service the account, without any agenda other than to exceed the customer’s expectations on the dimensions that matter. This will result in building trust. Back to listening, if something is not right, that means going to bat for the customer, and that means being willing to take risk and change. For the rest of you, November will be the month that your sales managers will make their decisions about which patch or accounts to reassign you to in January, and you only get a few of those shots!

-Mr. CIOTalks

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