One of my recent customers is an extremely forward thinking company from the sales systems and support perspective. Even down to one of their top reps demanding they ran a sales blog of success. That very same fella, John from East Anglia described one of the facets to his account management ethos.
They’d historically only been measured on new business, so traditional farming techniques tended by most to get ignored. Their customers would have a time horizon for using the services, then get all the attention just before ‘renewal’ time. And keeping the client from avaricious competitor claws then proved tricky.
John took notice of a survey, done he thought about ten years ago by Yellow Pages. They asked their customers what they thought of their customer service. The main answer was that “you only speak to us when you want to sell us something”. And of course that was true, as calls came when it was time to once again get their big ad prominently displayed in the book. The immediate reaction was along the lines of, well, we’re not a charity, but they did resolve to make their approach a little ‘softer’.
They found that when they contacted their customers to offer advice or help answer queries proactively, the reaction was then, “they called me and didn’t try and sell me something!”. John’s adaptation of this was that rather than call on accounts once a year, he tried to do it quarterly, and saying something simply like, “the things that’ve crossed my desk recently that made me think of you include….” And he left them to think about them without appearing to ‘sell’, and he felt that when selling was required, the client was much more receptive to speaking with him.