Conventional wisdom is often wrong. Take the clichéd notion of “don’t sell past the close.” This chestnut is supposed to encourage you to listen intently to your customer for the signal that they are ready to buy and then stop blathering from that point on. It’s a noble intention. However it may inadvertently carry with it other baggage that is anathema to great selling.
In today’s competitive selling environment, the first transaction with a new customer is simply the overture in a much longer musical composition. If not, when the music stops, you may find it was just a game of musical chairs and now you’re the one left standing.
Buyers now demand a level of commitment to value-added services along with your product, something that might have been unthinkable a decade ago. Depending on the product that your company sells, it may in fact be a critical component of your long-term viability.
Selling past the close means a commitment to customer success. This ranges from making your product or service a success by exceeding the expectations that you have set for it, but it’s more than that. It’s about adding value to your customer well beyond the boundaries of your product and across their functional responsibilities.
If you’re not selling a great distance past the close at your accounts, your competitors will be soon.
At Compile, our customers value our involvement in an ongoing discussion long after we have booked first revenue. Our service fits into a larger (sometimes much larger) demand generation and sales prospecting context.
Many of our customers expect us to not only deliver our service (high quality B2B sales leads and insights) but also to challenge their thinking on topics ranging from their internal execution to marketing/sales alignment to incentive schemes to optimal organizational structure and a lot more.
They expect answers to such questions as: How should the service be used? What are the best practices for driving outsize results? What is the optimal way to train new reps on using the service?
When we look at some of the customers that have benefited the most from Compile – a subset of those that have doubled or tripled down on our service – a pattern emerges. There is clearly a group of our customers whom our team has engaged in a strategic discussion that supersedes the product that we sell.
We stand out in part by bringing observations and insights from around the industry, those that we have gained through a portfolio of customer interactions as well as from being avid students of the profession.
To be clear, these are not always friendly discussions. In some cases, we’ve been told, these can jolt our customers out of their comfort zone, but in the long run, are appreciated.
It’s no longer enough to be an expert in the product or service that you deliver to the market. In order to truly position your company as well as yourself for success, you need to become an expert in your customer’s business as well. For Compile, this has driven us to study, network, and constantly soak in all things related to demand generation and sales development.
Editor’s note: This is an edited version of a previous post, which was published on 13 May 2014.
We can make a difference to our customers by thinking through what matters to them, by putting ourselves in their shoes, and by focusing on how we can help create a better experience for them.