The dreaded – and totally unexpected – notice arrives. After years of successful – and what was assumed to be a mutually rewarding relationship – your customer advises you that they have chosen – or are in the process of choosing – another partner! As was case of a renowned beverage company with an 18 year relationship with a valuable partner. The sales rep – a seasoned sales person – was in the account in the past two weeks and everything seemed great. But they soon learned that for the past 2 months, their long time partner had been searching for something different.
Sound familiar? And it doesn’t have to happen – EVER! At times, we forget that defensive selling is not only required, it fuels additional, even unplanned offense selling opportunities. Defensive selling involves necessary acts of account management: building more and deeper relationships; ensuring that periodic understanding of value your solutions bring is known and understood by decision makers; checking on the stability of your solution relative to the original reason for purchase; understanding changing needs (what would make a good installation even better?)…and yes, making sure you are aware of competitive activity. In the above example, a check in any of the areas listed would have tipped the rep to the fact that they were searching for something different. It would have been easy to identify just what was being sought and then an offense opportunity would have presented itself.
Defensive actions need to be part of your ON-GOING territory activity and a review of your contribution to the account needs to happen at minimum on an annual basis. No company can live on the assumptions of past performance. Each visit – each inquiry – not only helps ensure the security of your existing installation, it offers an opportunity for “offense selling” – upgrades, add-on’s, new discovery and yes, competitive replacements.
Enough said! Good defense protects and leads to additional offense…offense that will ensure your hard work with the initial sales, results in the annuity for the future that you deserve.
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