If you promise the world, you better deliver more than an atlas
It’s funny how many businesses focus on ‘solutions’ today; it’s become a bit of a ‘buzzword bingo’ statement. Yes, it’s still vitally important to provide our clients with solutions to their problems. But just saying it doesn’t make your clients believe you. You have to prove it.
I thought about this recently after reviewing the fantastic work the team’s been doing on developing document scanning workflows for our clients. Sure we’re building a solution that addresses a challenge or issue in their business, but most of these engagements are ongoing i.e. we’re constantly tweaking and evolving the solution over time. The idea is to continually improve what we do.
Don’t just focus on the upfront
Think about an engagement that didn’t work for you with a supplier or partner: What was the cause of the break down? I often hear it described as a lack of progress with that partner, the feeling that once they implemented whatever product or service they were selling, they disappeared into the ether, never to be seen again – until there was another sales opportunity. With all the blogs out there you’d think that most businesses would have learnt their lesson but there’s plenty of examples where they haven’t.
I’ve seen it with suppliers to our business. There’s one previous equipment supplier to our business that we refuse to work with again due to the appalling lack of post-sales service and a complete dearth of effort at any level in trying to solve it with us. It was truly a situation of ‘promise the world, deliver an atlas’!
Continually review your services
Like my example with scanning workflows, our view on the process is pretty simple: If you’re working with your client to continually improve the way your product or service works, then you’re more likely to keep that client for the long term. You’re solution becomes a bigger part of their business and both parties win.
Here’s a couple of tips for ensuring you stay on top of the process, whether it’s selling to your clients or looking to drive value from your own suppliers:
Review the effectiveness of what you’re doing
If you’re regularly reviewing your approach, you’re giving yourself the ability to continually improve what you’re doing. Regular client reviews give you the chance to review progress, fix/tweak any issues, and look for new opportunities. If it’s with a supplier, you can make sure the product/service is hitting the mark as promised and if there is an issue, get it on the table to be fixed.
Get to know the wider business
When selling, really work to understand your clients’ business. I know its sales 101 but when you do it well it will give you a much better understanding of where you can add value. With suppliers, don’t be afraid to give them the chance to better understand you. Let them talk to different departments, employees etc.
We always look to this for our partners and ourselves. Accountability is absolutely crucial, whether its staying accountable to what you’ve promised a client or keeping your suppliers in check to what they’ve promised you.