The way some media sales people interact with their clients – even the most valuable ones – can too often be described as peaks and valleys. Clients get a lot of time and attention when they are ready to advertise or when the sales person is under pressure to make a quota. Once that piece of business has been placed – not so much.
Unfortunately, managers, always with the best intentions, can reinforce this bad habit by focusing their conversations with their sales people only on the accounts that are on the verge of spending money.
It might be rational, but it’s hurting your business. Indeed, we believe that this pattern of high involvement to no involvement is one of the leading causes of the high attrition that media companies experience among their most valuable clients.
Why? Because the client feels it!
If you want to help your sales people grow their accounts and reduce their attrition, you need to help them establish a more consistent level of attention. And that requires that both managers and sellers understand the power of non-selling activities.
Now, sales managers should expect some strange looks when they suggest that sales people grow their accounts with non-selling activities. Even the sellers who get it conceptually will need some concrete examples before they can embrace it.
Let me suggest this exercise: In the next sales meeting, the sales manager facilitates the generation of a long list of ideas. The question to the sales team could be, “Help me make a list of ways that we could become intimately aware of any client’s marketing efforts. What could we do to behave like we actually worked for the client’s company?”
One person may suggest, “I could subscribe to the client’s trade magazine so I can catch up on their industry at least once a month.”
Another might say, “Well, if I actually worked there, I would visit all their stores and I would meet the manager at every location.”
A third might add, “I would set up a Google alert, so I could receive daily updates on what’s happening with the company.”
Five or 10 minutes later, the team will have created a solid list of activities the sales people might do if they wanted to become more intimately involved in what a company is already attempting to achieve with its marketing efforts.
Now, all the manager has to do is allow a few minutes for each sales person to choose the ideas to which he or she wants to commit.
Increasing your sales team’s non-selling activities will not only show their clients that they are interested in their business, but it will also help the salespeople discover opportunities to bring them ideas that the clients never requested.
Try it. You are going to see the accounts grow.