How to avoid losing the sale after you have won the deal
This post is for any person involved in high value transactions that end up in long term engagements, projects or relationships. I have on occasion observed that as the moisture evaporates on the inked contract, so too does the salesperson’s enthusiasm for staying engaged with the customer.
An ‘in-joke’ amongst sales people is that, “You should never confuse sales with delivery.” – Amusing, but to our detriment, this is sometimes a bit close to the truth. By contrast, a truly excellent salesperson is defined by the success of the engagements that they initiate and the relationships that they carry throughout their career.
Some practices that will help you get the most from the very important after-sale period:
1) Attend early project meetings with your delivery lead and make sure that nothing is lost in translation from proposal to delivery.
2) Schedule a coffee with the customer’s implementation/engagement lead a couple of weeks after commencement to flush out any concerns they have early. This is often when you can discover team personality issues that can be addressed by swapping resources early in the project.
3) Send the project sponsor a thoughtful note (hand written on a card or attached to an appropriate gift) that acknowledges their support in getting things off the ground and reiterates your commitment to meeting the proposal objectives.
4) Set yourself reminders to check-in with the customer when certain milestones should be achieved – ie. If the project was to reduce costs by X% or improve revenue, then schedule a review time with your sponsor in the appropriate timeframe. This is a perfect opportunity for a case study/PR request, or a chance to help them get things back on the rails if objectives are not being met.
5) If you have an annual and ongoing contract, meet with your operations team and create a metrics oriented summary of the past 12 months and share it with your customer as a way of reinforcing the value of the relationship – This is a powerful defensive technique for fending off the approaches of competition.
You will know you are doing it right when:
- You have a bevy of referenceable customers.
- You are receiving unsolicited Linkedin recommendations from your accounts.
- You are being head-hunted by your clients.