I blogged recently on “latch-lifters” after one of many conversations I’ve enjoyed with the wonderful to speak to Steve Anderson. The other day he told me about a success he’d created after three years ago one of his senior contacts at a customer moved job. His new employer was equally suited to Steve’s wares, so an invitation to pitch soon followed. Yet an issue quickly surfaced. Their incumbent supply, although only “adequate”, was just about acceptable enough to carry on doing its job. So the bid died a death.
Steve decided not to be put out by this, and developed a plan that meant every quarter, he could go back in and talk to them about something new. True to his word, he’s been back several times since, and at Easter this year demo’d his latest product which was in effect, a vastly superior instant replacement for what they had. And then that wonderful place luck cropped up, y’know the one, where planning and opportunity meet. The incumbent’s stuff blew up.
Without entering into any real buying campaign, £13k of margin instantly added itself to his sales figures, with huge opportunity to start selling all the add-ons straight after.
It was a terrific story, and one I recounted to another region’s team at the same company a few days later. I might as well have been talking Martian. If activity wasn’t going to lead to anything this quarter, they simply weren’t interested. The difference? Steve is about to retire, the other region’s reps are all between 25-35.
I think Steve’s approach is a winner. The problem for us reps, is how to adopt that mindset ourselves. If you know you’re likely to be in the same role, on the same patch, at the same firm for even as long as three years into the future, then that puts you in a tiny group, wouldn’t you think?
Yet the problem for business in general is, you really should have someone performing this role to warm up long-term business. But who the blazes can you get to do it…..?