I was looking at a list of old clients last week as I was reviewing some new strategies for the new year. During this research I began to think about some of my old clients and looking for the reasons the business stopped or slowed down.
Then I began to think about some of my clients and how they have lost some long term account relationships. In doing this cause and effect analysis ( one of my favorite ways to review things that are not working any more.) I began to notice several common themes to how and why these accounts relationships began to fail.
Now, truthfully there were several factors which were out of our control or my client’s control. Things such as bankruptcy, mergers, plant closings, division closures, sell of the company, total change of management and direction, new pricing issues (too high or too low) and financial shortfalls.
But then there were the areas which the b2b sales person could have influenced in a negative way or definitely did not help turn the tide to keep the account relationship in tact.
So, here are the four major categories for why long term account relationship get lost…
- Lack of Attention
This one is the biggest point for losing a long term account. When B2B Sales People fail to pay close attention to the needs and desires of the contact within the account, things begin to unravel. Arrogance is at the top of the list, followed closely by a total lack of understanding (or the attempt to understand) the customers needs, problems, preferences and desires.
- Lack of Focus
When I reviewed this element I began to think about the used car sales person – slick and full of themselves – who is only interesting what they need. The flash and dash is all about the sales person’s style rather than the reality of the needs of the customer. Customers today want more substance. To use the old cliche – they are tried of the sizzle and want more steak!
- Incorrect Priorities
Unfortunately, I have a couple of friends ( in sales ) who are always talking about what they want and need a customer to do for them. GEEZ! It is not about you, it is all about the customer. Focus your priorities on the customer and watch how fast the account relationship improves.
- Lack of Listening
Have you ever experienced a situation whereby you are talking about a certain topic and then someone asks you a question wanting to know about the exact thing you were just sharing! Sales people do this to their customers too often. Part of the reason is due to the most common behavioral style for sales people whereas their listening skills are a personal weakness. Awareness of this deficiency is the only way to improve your listening habits – yes listening is a habit – so you hear exactly what the customer is talking about. Poor listening skills contributes to missing exactly what the customer wants and needs. To improve your listening skills, think about what is missing in their statements of wants and needs – and then use questioning for clarity to confirm you are listening.
There you have a few B2B Sales Tips you can use to maintain and growth those profitable long term account relationships. Build those account relationships and keep them as long as you can – it is a key component to your overall b2b sales success.