Working at warp speed, good ideas for building client relationships can fall through the cracks. Here’s an easy, short and unusual team exercise to capture those ideas.
For managers, the bonus is that you’ll get a good sense of the relationship selling power of your team. For reps, you’ll get fresh ideas and tips to help you build stronger ties to advertisers.
1. Answer this question:
What comes to mind when you hear these names?
- Bill Gates?
- Oprah Winfrey?
- Robin Williams?
You probably had very little trouble coming up with descriptive words and phrases that you link to these personalities. They are well positioned in your mind; each is known for his/her signature strengths; each provokes distinctive associations; and given the chance, you’d probably make room on your schedule for a chance to spend some time with them.
2. Play the same game again; only this time – think of yourself or your staff.
What do advertisers think of when they hear your reps’ names? What positions do your reps hold in clients’ minds? What “signature” strengths are they known for? When they call, visit or email, how do clients instinctively react?
If you gave this quiz to your advertisers, how would they assess your reps?
1= rarely 2 = sometimes 3 = most of the time 4 = always
Do clients think of your reps as “Peter Professional?”
- Reps arrive on time for appointments. (Call me old fashioned, but, am I the only one who thinks it is very “un-cool” to arrive late for a meeting that everyone else has managed to show up for on time?)
- Reps send thank-you notes when they get business. (This is called good manners.)
- Reps come in prepared for calls, respectful of client’s time. (They have notes; they take notes; they have a strategic direction to the call.)
- Reps deliver on their promises and on their deadlines. (“I’ll get it to you tomorrow” means tomorrow and not the next day.)
- Do they think of your reps as “Pamela Problem-Solver?”
- Reps sell what clients need, not just the latest special. (The difference between a sales pro and a sales peddler.)
- Reps know how to use the client organization as well as their own internal resources and people to make things happen.
- Reps anticipate needs and make things as easy as possible for clients to work with them. (One rep, realizing that the client was new and unsophisticated about the Internet, sent him the equivalent of Cliff Notes on the subject. For good business, one rep funded a lunch between her secretary and her client’s secretary so that they could work well together when the inevitable problems cropped up.)
- Do they think of your reps as “Tommy Tuned-In?”
- Reps treat clients as individuals. (e.g., sending articles of personal interest to the client; sending a note of congratulations on a new job.)
- Reps really listen to clients. (Old proverb: God gave people two ears and one mouth. She must have wanted us to listen twice as much as we talk.)
- Reps know that when there is a problem, two repairs need to be made: one to the problem at hand, and two to the relationship. (Reps call, email, or show up ASAP.)
- Do they think of your reps as “Edward Expect-the-Unexpected?”
- Reps do creative things with their clients. (e.g., skipping the usual restaurant lunch and grabbing a hot dog for a walk in Central Park instead.)
- Reps make presentations creative, clear and fun.
You get the idea.
3. Try this at your next weekly sales meeting:
Before the meeting:
- Everyone gets a copy of this article.
- Everyone writes how they think they are positioned in their clients’ minds. Are they “Peter Predictable?” “Gary Go-Getter?” “Nora No-Identity?” “Rocky Reliable?” “Winnie Wit?” “Matt Marketer?” You can make up your own names.
- Here’s the important part: Everyone lists at least three things they do that made them select that position or name. They can draw from the list above or create their own, based on the reasons for picking their “name.”
At the meeting:
Record the activities mentioned on flip charts/white boards
After the meeting: Have the lists printed up and distributed to everyone. Have each person keep these ideas, behaviors and tips posted on their desks as quick reminders for future use.
Bottom-line, the team will produce a much longer and stronger list than any one individual would for strengthening seller-advertiser relationships.
Some of these ideas may not seem comparable to creating world peace, but it’s important to remember that in selling:
“The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little “extra.”