Gavin, I have a new client that needs constant hand holding and she seems to think that she is my only client.
Have you got any advice as to how to keep her happy but not put all my other clients on the back burner, which for the last week I feel I have been doing???? Thank you for your help!!!
Thanks for the email, this is a sales question which I get asked a lot when running sales seminars and when sales training. The aim here is clear, we need to help you to get some control back over your client and some balance back into your sales activities. Failing to do this can result in you spending a disordinate amount of time with one client and lost sales due to you missing out on other important sales activities such as prospecting!
Pareto’s Law explains that 80% of your results will come from 20% of your activities and this is as true when selling as in any other discipline. When I run sales training sessions we often discuss how much sales energy and time some clients demand compared to others and it quickly becomes clear to delegates that some of their most profitable clients require very little input and some of their least profitable require massive input!
Clearly, there will always be clients on the “good” side of normal and clients on the “bad” side of normal and that is normal! But your aim should be to maximise the clients on the “good” side so that you are delivering more sales results and profitability from the same amount of effort. Achieving this is down to the clients that you work with in the first place (!) and in how you approach the sale.
Here are a few ideas and thoughts to help you…
Some clients are more demanding than others. This is the way it is, the way it always has been and, I’ve no doubt, the way it always will be. Some clients will look after themselves, others will need hand holding! Some clients will be on the phone all of the time, others will rarely ring you. Some clients will expect the world, others will be happy with what they have already.
As with many sales challenges and scenarios your mindset and approach will play a critical role in which types of clients you have. Many salespeople exhibit a “desperation” to please at any cost. This is not good and if you do this it may well be the case that it was you who encouraged your client to be this demanding.
If your client is the type who has a tendency to over demand and you have been prepared to jump through hoops every time you were asked (and sometimes before) then their expectations may well be very, very high. It may even be the case that their expectations are wholly unrealistic. Much of the responsibility for this probably lies with you and the other salespeople who wooed them in the first place!
The key to satisfied AND manageable clients who do not over-demand and who work in partnership with you is to under-promise and over-deliver. To do this effectively you need to set boundaries during the sales process so that everyone understands what is required, expected and needed of them. This can be difficult at times but it is essential if you are going to keep your clients happy, build a strong reputation and protect your time.
If you fail to set boundaries and expectations you may never please your clients! That will hold your sales development back so it is essential that under-promising and over-delivering is something which you know how to apply.
Once you have set “realistic” expectations then your job is to over-deliver. Bingo! You have the time to do your job and your new client is delighted.
Unfortunately, many salespeople over-promise during the sales cycle and are then incapable of delivering even the standard that they promised. This will more than likely result in even more excessive demands and, ultimately, unhappy clients.
In your sales scenario where the sales process has already been and gone I would suggest trying to gradually regain some control through your language and your approach when you are dealing with the client. Be polite but start to “reframe” their expectations of the relationship. This may take some time but the earlier you start, the quicker you will start to see some results.
Whilst you are resetting expectations make sure that your client knows how to contact you and that they remain comforable with the relationship. If you are working with someone else on this client it would be worth discussing and brainstorming the best ways for reframing this client and their expectations whilst keeping them happy.
Ironically, if you do not reframe their expectations, you may never be able to please them no matter what you do nor how much effort and time you put in. You could well end up losing the client.
Remember however two things.
1. For there even to be an “average” maintenance level some clients have to demand more and others less!
2. If this client has “expectations”, you need to be very careful how you reframe them so that you do not upset them and lose the client.
For more on how to set client expectations and build truly profitable, partnership relationships with clients check out my Professional Selling Skills seminars and programmes.