Karl Sakas, Founder and CEO of Sakas & Company, and author of a couple of books, including his latest, Made to Lead, joins me on this episode.
Karl says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps is competition, and how to stand out from the noise to get their services or products in front of the right people. Karl suggests specialization, as much as possible.
Andy wrote a blog post years ago, asking, “When you have pain, do you want to go to a generalist, or a specialist?” If you sell managed IT to large manufacturing firms, you don’t also need to be selling managed IT to law firms.
Specialization frees you up to think about your customer. You don’t worry about what you don’t know. Karl talked once at a professional services client experience conference. He knew he was a little out of his field.
Karl talks about trust. Do your clients trust that you are the right firm to solve their problem? The book The Human Brand talks about warmth and competence. Can you make your clients feel special while getting the job done?
The book Presence talks about trust and competence, which are important when starting a business relationship. Trust precedes competence.
Trust starts by specializing. In conversation, drop in references to previous successful work, or anecdotes about similar situations.
Share a summary of your onboarding process and your client service approach up front. “Start with the end in mind.” The client needs to know what the experience will be working with you over the years. What is the process to get there?
References of clients is good social proof that lends trust. You can keep them anonymous. There are image issues your clients may not want discussed. Speak in generalities.
Another issue is meeting deadlines and expectations during the sales process. If you miss commitments during sales, they will assume that was your best effort. There are no unimportant prospect interactions.
Karl brings up fast failure. If someone is not a fit, say no. Clients you turn away will respect you for not wasting time. They may return in the future as a better fit. Agreements not to work together are good times to get referrals.
Too many times, the lure of the order is stronger than common sense. Karl relates a mistake he made a few years back. Some clients are irrational. Sometimes you are dealing with their unresolved childhood issues.
When you get the order, within one business day call back and review the order, going through the whole process. They may be confused what they actually bought, after having talked to several vendors. Make sure you are starting right.