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Archive for the ‘Extraordinary Customer/Client Service’ Category

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.

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.

New Ideas for Your Elevator Speech

October 12th, 2020 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

Somehow I missed another great author, Donald Miller, whom many of you probably already know. He has led a pretty diverse life, which includes the making of a movie based on one of his books, Blue Like Jazz. In another book, Building A StoryBrand, he does a wonderful job of helping organizations script their “elevator speech.” I’ve experienced — and agree with — most of his advice.

When it comes to his StoryBrand messaging, he recommends using the following seven categories as a framework:

  1. A Character: The customer is the hero, not the brand.
  2. Has a Problem: Companies tend to sell solutions to external problems, but customers buy solutions to internal problems.
  3. And Meets a Guide: Customers aren’t looking for another hero; they’re looking for a guide.
  4. Who Gives Them a Plan: Customers trust a guide who has a plan.
  5. And Calls Them to Action: Customers don’t take action unless they’re challenged to take action.
  6. That Helps Them Avoid Failure: Every human being is trying to avoid a tragic ending.
  7. And Ends in Success: Never assume people understand how your brand can change their lives. Tell them.

Miller summarizes the above with three strategies:

  1. Identify your customer’s problem.
  2. Explain your plan to help them.
  3. Describe a successful (happy) ending to their story.

As you know from Adam Grant’s book, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, sometimes we need to take risks — so here I go. The following is the Doescher Advisors StoryBrand Elevator Speech:

“Over decades we meet business owners who are lonely. They lack an experienced, objective, confidential partner. Doescher Advisors fills that void through active listening and practical advice, like a member of the owner’s executive team. The result: Our clients sleep better. Try us out for a month, with no further commitment.”

For those of you who have read StoryBrand, please let me know what you think of my new elevator speech.

Sales Management 11.0, part 2

August 24th, 2020 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

This blog is a follow-up to my last post, which highlighted the common issues Mike Weinberg, author of Sales Management Simplified, experiences when he works with his clients.

Part Two – Practical Help and a Simple Framework to Get Exceptional Results

  1. The 4 Rs of sales talent management: Put the Right People in the Right Roles, Retain Top Producers, Remediate or Replace Underperformers, and Recruit.
  2. If I confidentially polled your salespeople, would the majority say the leadership of your company is “for” the salespeople or against them?
  3. According to Weinberg, sales managers “invest” (waste) most of their time: They’re slaves to emails, they have a ridiculous number of meetings, they get caught up playing assistant general manager, they focus too much on administrative items and unnecessary reports, and they don’t protect their calendars.
  4. Sales managers’ top three activities should be: 1) Conducting monthly one-on-one meetings with individual salespeople, 2) Leading sales team meetings, and 3) Working alongside (observing, coaching, helping) salespeople when they’re with customers and prospects.
  5. During monthly 20-minute one-on-one meetings: 1) Compare actual sales results with goals, 2) Quickly review the salesperson’s pipeline of potential deals and sales opportunities, 3) Review sales activity going forward, especially in situations where the salesperson fails the first two tests.
  6. Two great sales activity questions to ask: 1) Can you name the new opportunities that are in your pipeline that weren’t here last month? 2) Can you name the existing opportunities that you moved forward in the sales process since last month?
  7. Sales team meeting agenda potential items: 1) Give brief personal updates, 2) Review sales results and highlight outstanding performance, 3) Share stories, 4) Conduct product training, 5) Share best practices, 6) Brainstorm deal strategies, 7) Have an executive or other department guest presentation, 8) Conduct a book or blog review, 9) Work on sales skill coaching/training, 10) Give business plan presentations, 11) Have a brief, controlled bitch session, 12) Share some non-sales-related inspiration, and 13) Talk about takeaways.
  8. Riding along with your salespeople provides an opportunity to observe them in action.
  9. Working in the field presents a priceless opportunity to coach a salesperson before and after sales calls.
  10. Windshield time and mealtime provide a rare opportunity to learn more about your salespeople; this will make you a more effective sales manager.
  11. Getting out of the office provides you with a firsthand look at what’s taking place in the market.
  12. Fieldwork helps you develop important relationships with key customers.
  13. When with your salesperson, be present with your salesperson.
  14. Don’t do your salesperson’s job.
  15. Free up your excellent sales hunters so they can maximize their time hunting.
  16. Most sales managers wait too long to address underperformers.

Hopefully you’ve identified a tip or two that you can incorporate into your business. My suggestion would be to get a copy of Sales Management Simplified and use it like an owner’s manual. Pull it out when you have a specific issue with your sales team, and take advantage of Weinberg’s wisdom on the subject. He obviously has seen it all.

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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