You know that when you are dating someone and they finally take you to meet their family that things are starting to get serious. Good for you. You have courted that person of interest, they have reciprocated indicating that there is some sort of match and you have closed the deal with a kiss. Congratulations! You have made the sale. The process for acquiring new business is just as exciting as chasing a new romantic interest; not to mention that there is a paycheck waiting for you. You may have, during this process, met other members of the prospects’ team, but you haven’t been introduced yet as the girlfriend or boyfriend. All that changes when you make the sale and you become, in essence, a strategic partner for you newly acquired client.
Meeting the family in terms of sales can mean different things to different sales people depending on what you sell and who you sell it to. Those of us who sell large ticket items or strive for repeat business understand the aspects of maintaining those long term relationships. The family that is now your client is very similar to a standard family. There will be those who respect you and the relationship and be happy that you are doing business with them. There will also be those who do not approve and may do so quite vocally in your absence. Those people are usually the ones who preferred the old vendor that their company was dating and don’t like change, even if it wasn’t a good relationship. Your job, ideally, is to eventually win them over with great products and services, but don’t get discouraged when there isn’t a %100 buy-in from the entire team. Every family has at least one.
One thing that is unique in the client family as opposed to a dating family is turnover. The family of someone you are dating will always have that brother, aunt, mother, etc. in the dynamic. In sales, you have to deal with the unfortunate reality of employee turnover. You may go to visit your client and see faces you do not recognize while your favorite familiar team members have moved on. Quite often nobody thinks to tell you this in advance and you are caught by surprise. When you become the girlfriend or boyfriend in a sale, you essentially become the account manager. And this is where most salespeople make very bad mistakes by following the wrong assumptions and taking the relationship for granted. We don’t check in with our clients on a regular basis and we assume that everything is okay only to find out that your main point of contact is gone and the replacement is someone who has a relationship with your competitor. Too much time has passed and you made yourself irrelevant by your own absence. This is because you focused too much on the process of getting the sale, and not the process of farming your clients. Scorecard training can help you keep your existing account happy while still making time to find new ones.
Nothing lasts forever in the world of sales and keeping your client family happy is an art in and of itself. People come and go, and when you lose your key accounts, you have to start dating again. Anyone who has been in a long term relationship knows that when it comes to an end, learning how to date again becomes difficult. Learning how to prospect again for complacent sales people is just as hard. So remember to make as many friends at your client’s company as possible. Become part of their family as you would someone you are dating and lock in a wonderful long term sales relationship.