Your Clients and Partners Are Selecting Your Team – Not Your Product

I realize there are exceptional sales and alliance people that utilize individual approaches and derive excellent results. Here’s an approach I use and am happy to share.

Before launching into a product demonstration or a presentation, I ask if I can take 5 minutes to provide more insight into our company, our focus and investment areas, and introduce members of our team that will support them. I explain that it will help provide a complete picture so once they see the product, they will better understand not only the product, but the value we are determined to deliver.

I typically start with an overview of the Product Development and Engineering teams. I explain the focused priorities of the group and the ways we are investing in that organization. Clients and partners want to know that we value this team and are continually investing in them – those investments result in exceptional products.

I speak about Customer Success and Support. By explaining that a key focus is to optimize the client or partners benefits and utilization of the product (or service) I stress the importance that our relationship starts when the order is signed and our focus is on delivering flawless execution and performance in supporting the client.

I speak about our field sales and pre-sales team. The importance we place in their knowledge, expertise, and their value to the company. This is the team that is closest to the client and we want to empower them to accelerate sharing and learning from our clients and partners.

I finish by speaking about the company, the values are principles we operate the business by, and the leadership team’s role in remaining fully involved and integrated with clients and partners. Clients and partners need to hear specifically that product enhancements, new product development are often a result of customer requests. Its very important to make the specific point that the collaboration is beginning and that the senior leaders of the company are active participants.

In each section, I introduce key contacts so they begin to see our team as proven, complete and defined.

I stop, ask if that was useful, answer any questions, then begin the demonstration or presentation. The feedback we receive is always very positive.

One last thing – this approach helps me align more people from the client side to my team. All too often we are “single threaded” into opportunities and fail to develop coaches across the various teams that make up the client.

You can always reach out to me directly for any questions or clarification.

When Something Remarkable Is Built In Your Own Backyard

For anyone that is in the sales and service business you must learn the story of Zane’s Cycles.  I’ve lived in Guilford, CT for more than 20 years and knew Zane’s was a very successful bicycle sales and service business but I never fully understood why or the kind of person and leader Chris Zane is.  I feel as though I missed some extraordinary lessons by not paying closer attention.

Many of us on LinkedIn look for business insight, to apply lesson from thoughtful leaders into our business practices.  I recently wrote about DocuSign and their commitment to client success.  The Zane’s Cycle team has for more that 30 years, had the same unwavering commitment to customer service, loyalty, and making every customer interaction 100% positive.  Here are some examples to share:

Life-time warrantee – Zane’s wants to create lifetime customers and provides several free and low cost programs that insure clients will continue to interact with them as their families grow.  Zane’s know that every time they have a opportunity to interact with their customers they will further develop trust and deliver value.  Think about that, its pretty extraordinary to have the culture to know that every time you and your team interact with clients that something positive will happen.

Zane’s generous approach to servicing clients is based on its faith in people and the belief that clients will do the right thing.  There are many generous elements of the company’s business approach – some when you look quickly you wonder “How could a business afford to do this? – How can they afford to take this risk?”.  But Chris and his team have great confidence in people interacting honestly and honorably.  That is how he interacts with them and how they interact with him.  Another thing to think about – what if we earned that kind of trust/loyalty from our clients?  How much time would we free up to innovate and find ways to deliver more value to clients and partners.

There are several great videos of Chris on his LinkedIn profile – I suggest you invite him to connect on LinkedIn and take the time to view his presentations.  I learned a great deal and you will too.

Preparation, Execution, and Investment – The Essential Lessons Of Selling To GE

I’m not sure there is another client that requires a higher level of preparation, execution and professional investment than GE.  Over the years, GE’s business configuration and corporate identity has changed dramatically (its start as a manufacturing company, the GE Capital years, Lean Six Sigma, and now as a innovative and growing software company).  But (at least) 3 things have never changed.  GE rewards exceptional preparation, execution, and investment from the companies that sell to and service them.

The issues of preparation and execution are obvious.  Its the issue of investment that remains a barrier to many potential vendors.  I believe that in the most productive and positive ways, GE transforms its partners and vendors.  GE is exceptionally demanding.  GE  has done more to define and improve programmatic service and support than any company I can think of.  If a company and its leadership are not (truly) open to transforming and improving operations, GE is the wrong prospect and the wrong client.   But I believe GE is one of the few global companies that measurably and consistently improve their vendors product and service quality and operational efficiency.