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Once you have made your sale, you have to execute. Well, your team has to execute and you have to help them. If you don’t execute, if you don’t produce the result that you sold, you put all greater levels of value creation at risk. Or worse.

You can’t move to strategic.

It’s all but impossible to move to a higher level of value creation if you can’t produce the results that you sold. It’s not that you can’t have problems and challenges. You can. But you can’t fail to produce the basic level of results that you sold.

To move to strategic, you have to first to take of the lower levels of value creation. In business-to-business sales, this means producing the results that you sold. A great product or service that doesn’t produce results is a worthless product or service as far as your clients are concerned. Great service without producing results won’t cut it either. It’s just not enough.

You can’t pursue new initiatives.

If you want to improve your wallet share and pursue new initiatives with your clients, you first have to take good care of the business that you already won. If you bite off more than you can chew, you have to chew before you take another bite.

In order for you to pursue new initiatives, you have to build a history of executing on the work that you are given. You have to work from success to success, tackling more and more important initiatives as you move up the levels of creation. Without a history of accomplishments, it’s difficult for your clients to conceive of giving you more.

Ultimately, you can’t retain your client.

Execution is table stakes. You simply have to produce the results you were hired to produce or, ultimately, you will not retain your client.

You may have the relationships and the right ideas. You might have a history of performing for other similar clients, and you might even produce even greater than expected results for those clients. But, if you aren’t executing and producing results for this client, they are going to be forced to move their business, relationships be damned.

Client retention begins with execution. Once you are executing, you work towards the strategic and bring new ideas and new initiatives.

Talk it out.

First, you have to talk to your operations team with the belief that they are doing their best to produce results. This is your team, and you are in this thing together, come what may. This means that you assume they have good intentions.

Second, you don’t attack them, and you especially don’t make personal attacks on your team. Attacking people generally causes them to defend themselves, and it isn’t a healthy place from which to draw out other people’s resourcefulness and problem-solving skills.

Before you explain to them what is at stake, you let your team know you are failing your client, and you work to understand what might be causing the failure. You listen to your team to discover their challenges. It’s your obligation to help ensure their success; that is leadership.

If the problems are on your client’s side, you intervene on behalf of your team and explain what your client might be doing to prevent your team’s ability to execute.

But if it’s not a challenge that is being caused in some way by your client, you have to explain what’s at risk if you fail to execute. You have to have the conversation about what your failure is costing your client, what it is going to cost your organization, and what must be done to execute.

If your team is missing the internal resources to serve your client, you have to work your internal relationships to help them get what they need to serve your client. You have to do your part, and you have to enlist the help your team needs in order to succeed for your client.

You can’t afford to fail your clients, and you need to engage your team to ensure your client succeeds. Their success is your success.


How do execution failures impact your client’s business?

How do those failure impact your relationship with your clients?

Can you get to strategic without executing at a more basic and fundamental level?

How should you approach your team about execution failures?

What do you owe your team in the way of leadership with your client relationships?

Sales 2012
Post by Anthony Iannarino on January 9, 2012
Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
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