Most of the time that we spend looking for opportunities is spent in two segments of our competitor’s loyalty continuum. We seek opportunities within their at-risk clients, where we know dissatisfaction lives, and we compete for their inevitable-loss clients.
If you hope to win your dream clients, it’s likely they exist in one of the other two segments, the loyal and secure segment or the loyal and unsecure segments. Here are some things to consider.
Selling to the Secure
Your competitor’s most loyal and most secure clients are your dream clients. They spend a lot in your segment, and they have the types of needs and challenges that allow you to create massive value. But you don’t spend time selling into this segment. Why not?
You don’t spend time selling in the loyal and secure because it’s difficult to penetrate. Your competitor has earned their client’s loyalty, and your dream client isn’t going to easily let them go just because you called claiming you can create more value. It’s easier to give up and call on more easily won prospects.
It’s also problematic to call on your competitor’s loyal and secure clients when you have a quarterly number to make. It’s not easy to win these clients, and it isn’t likely that an opportunity can be created or won quickly. Sales management frowns upon missed numbers, and all the happy talk about long-term thinking is for naught when people don’t make their numbers.
So instead, we avoid our best prospective clients and move downstream.
You have to both create and win opportunities with your dream clients, especially the ones loyal to your competitors.
You win these clients over time by nurturing the relationships within your dream client’s account. You make frequent, meaningful deposits in those relationships by providing them with ideas and insights that create value for them—even though it is counterintuitive to share your ideas with your competitor’s dream clients. You make yourself known as a value creator so that when your dream client experiences some change, when there is some opening, you have paid in advance for the opportunity to work with your dream client.
There is no alternative to working on your dream clients. If you are not known when they experience a change, you will not get an opportunity to serve them, nor will you deserve one.
Selling to the Unsecure
Your competitor’s loyal clients may be less secure than you might believe. These clients may not be in the at-risk column, but they may have stakeholders that are unhappy with their present results and they believe that they someone in your space to do something to help you.
It isn’t difficult to believe that because you have some key stakeholders that are loyal and secure that your client isn’t going to look at other potential offerings. This is a dangerous belief—and it’s a little naïve. A little dissatisfaction can create an opening for someone else long before the account is at-risk, especially someone who is willing to find their way in at a level low enough not to raise eyebrows or sound the alarms.
To sell to your competitor’s unsecure clients, you work on finding the pockets of dissatisfaction that do exist. You build and nurture those relationships. You build consensus around you and your ability to create the value that they really need. You have a presence deep in the bowels of the organization, your create relationships, and you make sure that you are known. You learn the ground truth and make yourself valuable while you build towards an opportunity.
You can do all of this while you are nurturing relationships with the contacts that are still loyal. You may not be able to directly approach and sell to the loyal very easily (they are loyal, after all), but you can build consensus all around them.
Regardless of your strategy and your tactics, you have to sell within these two most difficult segments. This is where your dream clients live.
How do you sell to accounts that are loyal to your competitors?
How do you nurture relationships within these accounts while your competitors are doing good work and while they have secure relationships?
How do you find pockets of dissatisfaction within your dream client accounts?
What do you do to develop consensus around you and your ideas while your account is still loyal to your competitor?
Why isn’t it enough to call on your competitor’s at risk and lost clients?