Your competition’s #1 prospect is your top customer. Your largest, most profitable, longest lasting account is at risk of being plucked away. That’s right- your competitor has the name of your top customer in their CRM and they are compiling as much information as they can to try to win them over.
That’s pretty unsettling, isn’t it?
Now, I know what you are thinking…”But that customer has been with me for years. I service them better than anyone. I know the ins and outs of that account. Everyone there knows me!” You might even say “I have such a solid relationship with them that they tell me when a competitor stops by”.
All of that may be true, but here’s the thing…..
Your competition wants that business and they want it now. That customer is giving you huge revenue. Not only would your competitor love those dollars, but they are planning on acquiring your market share. Your top customer is so big that your competitor is using their internal resources to help in the acquisition. They are marketing to them, they have been authorized to travel there, they have invited their VP of Sales to bring the deal home, and they are pulling together special pricing and perks.
Would you like to know their plan? I know what it is, but before I give it to you, let’s discuss what it won’t be:
We know that they are not going to devote years or months to developing a relationship with the prospect. They aren’t going to get a ‘plant’ or ‘coach’ in there without you seeing it. They aren’t going to go in and try to sell the same thing you provide, getting your customer to switch for an identical product or service won’t work unless yours is less than stellar.
Here is their plan: Your competitor will show your customer how a change can help their business.
Yup, it’s that simple. Your competitor will work hard at getting a single appointment with the right people and walk right into the conference room you have sat in many times, using the same monitor or whiteboard you have used on countless business reviews and they will show your customer how a simple change can make their business better. It may be a new product or service, it may be a new business process, it may be a new price or pricing model, it could be new technology or industry standard, or it could be an introduction to a valuable partner.
Whatever it is will cause your customer to lean back in her chair, rub her chin, and exchange glances with the ops team that is also present. She will tell your competitor that they need to ‘talk internally’. The CFO will then ask your competitor to write up the deal for review so it can be ‘socialized’. Shortly after you will receive a call thanking you for your years of partnership. There will be some assurance that they will look for a place to ‘plug you in’. Then, POOF! Your top customer and their revenue will be gone and you will have a ton of explaining to do.
So, how can you prevent this tragedy? Be a change agent for your customer. Here’s how:
- Become an expert about their business and industry. You should be informing them of updates, changes, and opportunities.
- Make sure you understand what business processes you impact in their company. Offer suggestions for efficiency. Bring in help if you have to.
- Your product or service should tie to measurable metrics for your customer. Not your metrics, theirs. When you hit them, make sure you remind the customer of it. Then tighten it up so there is a record of improvement over time.
- Sharpen your pencil. I don’t mean lower your price, unless, of course, you are a low price leader. I mean make sure you can tie your pricing to the value you provide. Do you know your customer’s perception of the value you offer? If they think of you as a vendor and you give partnership level pricing, you may have to fix that.
- Try to sell them something new. Are there any additional services they could benefit from? Do they know and properly use all the products in your line? Can you introduce them to channel partners that could further support the customer with you?
- Lastly, look for ways to make them less dependent on you. That seems counter-intuitive, but I assure you…your customer is already looking at this angle. If there is a way for them to do it, it is far better for them to hear it from you than to figure it out themselves or hear it from your competitor.
I know you’d like to keep things the way they are but your customer is looking to change and improve. If you don’t bring them the change they seek, your competitor will.
You can be an advocate for change or a victim to it. Your choice.
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Ideas, comments, and questions are always welcomed! Happy Selling!