The Coach's Corner

Are the Best “Client Servers” the Best “Hunters”?

March 29th, 2021 // Tom Doescher // 0 Comments

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

I was with a client the other day and he was telling me about the tools he’s creating to help his professionals engage with their clients. These tools identify industry-type issues and knowledge that will help the client avoid increased costs and/or be more profitable. Don’t tell him, but while he was talking, I started thinking of what I had written in my book Hunter Extraordinaire: Sage Advice from the Lucky Guy Series — specifically on pages 2 and 3, as follows:

Here’s what the clients/customers say about the types of sales reps labeled “The Challenger”:

  1. They offer unique and valuable perspectives on our market.
  2. They help navigate alternatives.
  3. They provide ongoing advice or consultation.
  4. They help me avoid potential land mines.
  5. They educate me on new issues and outcomes.

Suffice it to say that at Doescher Advisors, we believe the most successful new business developers “help” their clients/customers; they do not “sell” them.

So when I think about this blog’s title question and my experiences over the years, my answer is yes.

In my opinion, Hunters are very difficult to find. That being said, I would let the Hunters do their thing, but also figure out a way to have them occasionally interact with your major clients to achieve the benefits discussed in the book The Challenger Sale, by Matthew Dixson and Brent Adamson.

Is the Lack of Water Cooler Discussions Hurting Learning?

March 8th, 2021 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

We’ve all had to deal with lots of change during the global pandemic. Actually, some of the changes are good. I may post a blog in the future sharing the positive changes in my life/routine. Anyway, I do have a concern about the loss of informal conversations that used to happen in the workplace — commonly referred to as “Water Cooler Talk.” Having  devoted decades in a professional/knowledge-based environment, I’ve been reflecting upon how I learned. Formal classroom training played a small role, while on-the-job training played a much bigger role. As I’ve thought it over for the past few months, I would say some of the most impactful lessons took place at the water cooler. They were unscheduled, impromptu discussions with colleagues about a client and/or business issue.

For years, my office was at the end of a long hallway. When I was working on a sticky client issue, I’d often look down the hallway to see whose office lights were on. Determining who was around was the first step in helping me identify someone who could help me solve my problem. I would stroll or race down the hallway and barge in on them unannounced, then ask the famous question: Do you have a minute? Usually, they’d respond yes, because they knew that at some time in the future, they would be standing in my doorway. This past year, as I’ve engaged in Zoom, GoToMeeting, and other video tools from my home office, I’ve wondered, Would I call/contact others while working remotely? Unfortunately for me, the answer is probably no.

To make matters worse, I think going forward post-Covid, many businesses are going to have large portions of their workforce continuing to work remotely.

So do we have a systemic problem brewing in professions that depend on knowledge workers?

I’d love to hear from you.

First of all, do you agree there’s a potential problem where professionals working remotely will not ask — and therefore will not receive — important knowledge?

Secondly, have you adopted practices to mitigate the loss of Water Cooler Talk?

I can’t wait to get your feedback.

Different Hunters are Better for Different Products or Services

February 15th, 2021 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

In my last post, I identified three traits that I’ve observed over the years in the best Hunters. As I was talking with Kat, a new sales rep, about Hunter Extraordinaire, it seemed that, in addition to the general characteristics of the best Hunters, a number of special and unique traits or knowledge would be more or less important, depending on the company’s product or service.

Sometimes we over-engineer these subjects, so I’d often ask myself, What would I want to know before I made a purchase? Or, as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I would visualize my dad being the prospective client. (My dad, a mail carrier, had an abundance of common sense.) I’d think, Would I offer this product or service to my dad? Would it really help him? Does he really need it?

Here are some general categories of questions to consider:

  1. Is the company offering a product or a service to the client? (In this post, I’ll use the word “client,” but please substitute customer, patient, guest, or whatever you call them.)
  2. Is it an off-the-shelf product or service? Does it need to be modified to fit the client’s situation?
  3. Is the company offering a professional service?
  4. Are third-party installers or implementers required?
  5. Is the client a business or a consumer?

As I thought through those questions, I found I had some follow-up questions:

  1. How technical/complicated is the product or service? How knowledgeable does the sales rep need to be about the product? Is the sales rep teamed up with a technical support person to assist in explaining and demonstrating the product or service?
  2. How passionate is the sales rep about the product or service? For example, when I was proposing to a prospective client at Plante Moran, I knew we would really take care of their needs, so I had a degree of confidence (hopefully not cockiness) that the prospective client could sense or feel.
  3. Do I really understand the prospective client’s business, or should I do some research or ask a colleague to join me on the sales call?
  4. Will the person I’m talking with pay for the product or service, or are they spending someone else’s money?

Hopefully, you get the point. Do your homework to make sure you understand your prospective client, their business, and their industry.

If you have any additional pointers, please hit reply and share them.


How Do You Find a Hunter?

February 3rd, 2021 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

After publishing Hunter Extraordinaire, I wanted to test out my assumption that this “field manual” could be used to train new business development sales reps. To that end, I began a search to identify someone early in their career with whom I could work. I found Kat, and here are just a few of the characteristics I identified in her: 1) She started working in a professional office when she was 15 years old; 2) She was a competitive swimmer and still plays water polo; 3) As a result of dual enrollment, when she graduated from high school she was one class short of being a college junior; 4) She made a good first impression and was easy to speak with; 5) She smiled a lot. I would encourage you to look for similar clues when you’re recruiting and selecting new sales reps.

As we began to meet and discuss the book, I realized there were a few important traits missing from Hunter Extraordinaire.

Before joining Plante Moran, I completed several personal assessments. When I met with the recruiter to review the results, he said I had scored high in social work, which caught me off guard. He could tell I was a little stunned, and quickly followed up by saying that was a positive. He explained that the firm was looking for professionals who liked to help and serve clients (in this post, I’ll use the word “client,” but please substitute customer, patient, guest, or whatever you call them). He went on to say the firm desired to build a culture where team members wanted to help each other at all levels. He said, “You’re a perfect fit.” In light of my four-decade career there, I guess he was right.

As a result of my experiment, my first addition to Hunter Extraordinaire would be that sales reps should like to help and serve their clients. In my observation of the best Hunters, every one of them puts the client first, and they love to help them both professionally and personally (i.e., helping a spouse or child). Often they become good friends with them. They would never intentionally do anything that would hurt the client.

The second trait would be to have a high degree of curiosity. In addition, it’s critical to have a sincere interest in the client’s business and industry. The best Hunters ask lots of questions — and do a lot of listening. I’m not talking about some technique learned in Sandler training (which, by the way, is excellent); I’m talking about really wanting to understand the client, their business, and their industry. (BTW, the client can tell!)

The third missing trait is being a good connector. By that I mean introducing the client to others who may be helpful to them. For example, say you find out, as you’re asking questions, about special needs the client may have. The next step would be to offer a possible solution to their problem with no direct benefit to you or your company. I judge how I’m doing with a client based on their inquiries of me. If they ask about a very narrow subject that has nothing to do with my service, then I believe I’ve accomplished my goal of being a trusted adviser.

In summary, extraordinary Hunters love to help their clients, really get to know them, and connect them with useful resources.

Winner of the 1978 Re-Recruiting World Cup

January 11th, 2021 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

When I say “I am a lucky guy,” I mean it. Recently I was reminded of a four-decade-old experience. I was a relatively new Plante Moran staff member when Barbara and I decided to sell our condo and begin our lake adventures. We had never sold a home before, so I went to my supervisor/mentor, Ken Kunkel, to seek his counsel. (For example, how do you get the timing of the sale to match the purchase of the new home?) Anyway, as always, he had a lot of good, solid, practical advice — plus, he helped me relax. Although I’m a calculated risk-taker, this was my first home swap-out.

We met several times. After each session, I would have some homework assignments. (As an aside, Ken knew quite a bit about the City of Novi, where our condo was located, and he knew the local officials, since they were his client.) Near the end of one of our meetings, to my shock, Ken said, “I may be interested in buying your condo for my daughter.” Really?

So, I started thinking, How is this going to work, selling to my supervisor? Ken suggested I get a couple of independent real estate appraisals and then we could discuss pricing. As you can imagine, I went from relaxed to nervous again. In addition to the appraisals, I did some of my own investigating, since we had a lot of friends living in Novi condos at the time.

In typical Tom Doescher fashion, I was very well prepared. You would have thought I was selling a Manhattan high-rise. The day came for our “pricing” discussion, and I shared all my findings with him; he studied the materials carefully. He took the highest appraisal, added several thousand dollars to the total, and said, “You and Barbara have made many nice improvements and are leaving several built-ins behind, so how does $X thousand sound?” He was definitely offering us a premium — plus, I wouldn’t have to worry about having my condo mortgage as a contingency on our new home offer, since he was offering a cash deal immediately.

I’m not sure who was more surprised, me or Barbara. It was like we won the lottery.

I had been re-recruited, and this was only one of the many reasons the “lucky guy” stayed with the firm.

The Advisor’s Corner

Tom DoescherYou’ll find stories from the trenches, business lessons, and pertinent questions to help you find inspiration, professional growth, and leadership savvy.

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