Most salespeople get pretty excited when they close a large opportunity. In fact, they take great pride in quickly updating the opportunity in their CRM to the “Closed Win” stage. This is the moment that they have worked hard for over the last year, and they feel a sense of accomplishment and finality. Instead of finality, winning the opportunity actually opens the door to a new beginning if the proper steps are taken for the development of a long-term customer.
The development of long-term customers is something that many salespeople overlook. Many salespeople are wired to work a pipeline, close on opportunities, and do it well. They can’t be or don’t want to be bothered with the excess steps it takes to turn an order into a long-term customer despite the fact that it is much easier to book business from existing customers than new customers.
So how does a salesperson actually turn an opportunity into a long-term customer? What are the steps that a salesperson should take after he wins an opportunity? The first thing a salesperson needs to consider is to determine whether there are any onboarding requirements for the new customer. One of the best things a salesperson can do is to build connections between key people in the rep firm and/or manufacturer with the key contacts at the customer.
It’s important to ensure everyone is on the same page regarding pricing, lead times, delivery, and special handling instructions. If the product that the rep is selling requires some end-customer training in order to receive the product properly or use the product effectively, it is prudent to get the training on the calendar early so that the date works with everyone’s schedules.
Once the product has arrived on time and is 100% complete as promised, the salesperson should update the notes in his opportunity to schedule another call at the account with the same contacts one more time. The single purpose of the sales call is to brag about the on-time delivery and the 100% fill rate. After all, if the salesperson does not brag about how well his company performed, no one else will do that for him. Excellent service and quality products are 2 solid reasons any customer would want to do business with the salesperson now and in the future. Obviously, this conversation sets the stage for the salesperson to start looking for additional business to target at the account.
As the salesperson talks with various people, he keeps his eye out, looking for new businesses to target. It is important that he stays in an “ask question mode” as he sees applications for his products. The purpose of staying in the “ask question mode” is to gather as much information about the application as well as identify any compelling reasons why the customer might want to switch vendors and purchase his products.
Based on the information learned from asking questions about various applications, the salesperson can then create new opportunities in his CRM software for the same account and begin the opportunity cycle all over again.
This salesperson has successfully made the first steps toward developing a long-term customer. As he continues to call on the account and lands new business, he will find his role changing at the account. His role will shift from “salesperson” to that of a “trusted advisor”, a vendor that the account trusts and relies upon for industry information and product trends.
When statistics reflect that it is 5 to 10 times more expensive to acquire new customers, one can see why top salespeople work on a plan to develop long-term accounts. And as they follow their plan and work the sales process in the opportunity, they generally are able to increase not only sales but margin as well.