It’s so much easier to get more business from existing customers when you’re the preferred vendor, and this is very easy to do. Being preferred provides an unfair advantage over any competition. You’ll get jobs without bidding and at your price. Even governments or institutions have work that sneaks-in under the radar that will be yours. For those projects that have to be bid, you’ll know when they are coming down the pike. You’ll learn what price will win, and you’ll be able to help write the specs that center around your strengths. So being preferred is where you want to be with all your accounts, and it’s easily possible.
The 2 Steps
The first step is to make a sale – see my article about getting to the top people, interviewing and presenting/differentiating.
Once you make the sale, you now have to deliver results. However delivering results is subjective to each executive who will measure how well you performed using his or her measurement of results, which is not only the spec. How you or your company thinks you performed is irrelevant.
So you must know each executives standards and take pains to track your progress against them. So the second step is is to set-up a meeting with all the key executives – especially the profit-center leader and his or her staff immediately after you close the sale.
You shouldn’t have too much difficulty because they know the competitive selling frenzy is over. Besides, you’re going to frame the request around the idea that you want to be sure you meet everyone’s expectations and you need to confirm them so no one is disappointed. If your main contact or subordinates tell you it’s not necessary, you’ve got to stand you ground and insist. It will be for their good also.
If possible, make these meetings one-on-one. It’s OK to conduct them by phone, although face to face is better. At these meetings get a clear understanding of each c-level executives’ desires, wants, and most importantly, expectations, i.e. completion time, costs, resulting benefits, etc. Then ask how this executive will measure you. To be specific ask, “How will you measure how well we do?” Then, close your mouth and listen. Don’t argue. You can ask for clarification or more details, but this is his or her measuring stick. You will have many different sticks, and they will all be important, so don’t minimize or ignore any. If there is a total misunderstanding about what will be provided, you’ve got to clear that up then and there.
Extra Meetings Enhance Relationships
When all is settled, establish progress reviews and a conclusion meeting. If it’s a project that will take months, you’ll want to ask for reviews on specific dates, or after specific milestones. Be sure this is done with the leaders. It can be brief and by phone if necessary. This is to insure expectations are still on track, and to discuss corrections if necessary. These reviews at the top are very important because it shows you’re being diligent, and it gives you more time to develop your relationships. Your relationship will be how preferred status will eventuate.
You’ll also want to make sure the top people agree to a conclusion meeting. This is critical for you because it is where you will associate yourself with the solutions. At this conclusion meeting you’ll ask if his or her expectations were met. If so, you’ll elaborate on what it took for you to accomplish these results. Don’t be shy. It’s critical that you make a point of how well you preformed and what effort and expertise it took to do it. If you don’t hammer this in, the subordinate or your contact will get the credit.
However, if the expectations have not been met, you’ll have to ask what needs to be done to correct this to his or her satisfaction. Make the corrections, if possible, and set-up another conclusion meeting.
Being Associated with the Solutions Requires Boosting
Most sales people and companies neglect conclusion meetings, and this is a missed gold mine. If you feel your good work says it all, you are sadly mistaken. They didn’t hire you to do bad work, so they will feel they got what they paid for – nothing more. If you don’t have progress meetings and conclusion meeting, but only have meetings when there are problems, guess what, you’re though of as a problem. That’s not good for the future. So make it a point to be associated with the solution. Then you can ask for more business with confidence and without hesitation.
Present the findings regularly to each and ask for his or her feelings. If the feeling are not so good, then develop a correction plans together? Caution: Don’t assume their feelings. Let them tell you. If the feelings are good, then you now have the essence of a relationship and the opportunity to become preferred. So use it. Ask for more business, or more information or introductions to other executives.
Problem Meeting Only
It seems you’re only called into the chiefs when there’s a problem - a delay or change order or over budget. Otherwise, you assume there’s no need - you’re doing fine, no ones complaining and/or you’re getting good feedback from the low levels.
You’re Only Associated with Problems
Since there are no meetings of good news with the executives, they assume their subordinates are doing their job and you’re getting paid, as hired help, to do your job. If you only meet when there are problems, you’re associated with the problems. As a result, there is nothing special about you or your firm, as seen by the senior staff, and therefore, no basis for a high-level professional relationship.
Score: 4=Always; 3=Most Times; 2=Usually; 1=Sometimes; 0=Never.
1. Do you feel that doing good work you will get more work? ___
2. Do you visit senior executives after the project or sales to tell what you did to make it successful? ____
3. Do you believe senior executives measure you on what the project specs ask for? ___
Scoring: 2 – 1 – 3 = ??
Positive is good. Negative suggest you need to schedule more progress and conclusion meetings.
And now I invite you to learn more.
Becoming Preferred: What to do, - How to do it, and - How to feel comfortable doing it.
8 pages of descriptions tactics and techniques to help you establish the relationships required to be preferred; Plus 3 complete strategies and tactics to show you how to bond with the top people; Plus a “Tak’n It to the Streets” worksheet to get you comfortable for the meetings; Plus an application story to show how it work in real life.
It’s all in this Problem Solving E-Book: Selling to CEOs Tip 22 – Becoming Preferred
Bonus Tip: While you’re at this link, grab your free E-book “Getting Past Gatekeepers and Handling Blockers”
Sam has put together his unique “Take’n It to the Streets” actions for you to feel you belong with any level or executive. Just click this link Elevate Yourself to the C-Level NOW 10 Strategies, Tactics and Techniques plus narratives and an example to show you how.
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