By Shelley F. Hall
If you’re in consulting, you’ve faced the challenge of asking a prospect to divorce their current vendor/supplier/partner and do business with you, instead. As you work on your sales plan for 2014, your task list is going to include encouraging prospects to initiate divorce proceedings so you can win their business. Divorce can seem just as traumatic in business as it is in personal life. But divorce is exactly what you want the prospect to do. So how can you get them to make the transition to doing business with you?
Here are five tips that will help you create the case for getting the prospect to leave your competitor for you:
- Ask yourself why the prospect should switch to your company.
- What pain relief can you provide?
- Eliminate the “all or nothing” mentality.
- Ask what it will take for them to make a change.
- Be patient.
If you don’t have a compelling answer, then you must find one. Your face may be pretty and your product may be great, but that’s not enough to make a company go through the pain of starting a new business relationship.
Can you offer the prospect a concrete plan that will take much of the burden of change off their shoulders? Banks have learned that getting a prospect to close an account with their old bank and open a new one with them is really an inconvenience for the new customer. To reduce this roadblock and as an incentive to switch, many banks have developed “on-boarding” systems that reduce the work and frustration for the customer. Can you streamline your processes as banks have done for their credit assessments or first-check order turnaround times? Removing the “pain” in change is key to getting your prospect to sign with you.
Be willing to start small with the prospect. Don’t ask for all of their business. You must prove yourself first before they are going to give up an acceptable existing relationship. Find one product or service that you are confident will give the prospect serious value and focus on selling that. This can be done by looking for a weakness in your competitor’s product or service offerings. Concentrate on breaking into the account by showing your strength in this one area.
It is perfectly ethical, professional and appropriate to ask what you need to do to earn a prospect’s business. Your manner must be sincere and professional—not accusatory or derisive. Once you learn what may be preventing the prospect from switching to you, you will have the information you need to develop a successful selling strategy for them.
As a practicing consultant you probably relish the instant gratification that comes with closing a sale and winning new business. But getting a new customer to give you their business over their current vendor or partner takes time, hard work and patience.
I remember, for example, a prospect I desperately wanted a few years ago … partly because no one else had been able to capture it! It was a huge national financial services company that just didn’t like change. It took me five years (while working for two different companies) before I earned just a small piece of its business. I was thrilled, so I serviced this new customer to death. Inside of one year I had earned all of their business for my region. Within two years I captured their national business, too! My patience had paid off handsomely.
Remember: business easily won can also be business easily lost! Heed these five tips and not only gain, but keep your hard-won new client “divorcees.”
Shelley F. Hall, author of the forthcoming book Brick Wall Breakthrough –Actions for Exceptional Sales and Service (Page Court Press) is a highly successful entrepreneur and corporate fugitive who has built, reinvented and turned-around numerous companies. Shelley is principal, managing director of Catalytic Management LLC, a leading management consulting firm delivering consulting and training that accelerates business growth through improved sales, service and process improvement. Shelley is considered an expert in the field of "customer-focused management." As a thought leader, Shelley writes frequently for major business journals such as Business Performance Management Magazine, CEO.com, The Handbook of Business Strategy, Women's Business, ManageSmarter and Sales and Service Excellence, Chief Learning Officer and is a sought after business advisor and speaker. Website