There are prizes for second in selling, at least. We all get brought up with that old line “there are no prizes for second.” And it’s certainly true that we are less likely to remember who lost in the final of the FA Cup in 19… or who got the silver in the Beijing Olympics in the …. event. And in sport I think that is generally true. Many top teams and sporting individuals have used the ‘crushing’ defeat of losing in the final or winning a silver or a bronze to spur them onto greater future achievements.
However, in selling it is often different. There are prizes for second. Of course you want to be number one. You won’t earn any revenue or commission for any account you have where you’re the contacts favoured alternative supplier. However …………
If you can’t be number one, (their preferred supplier), then aim to be number 2. It will frequently pay dividends. So, you keep in touch. You’re always polite and respectful, and you act like it genuinely doesn’t bother you that (at the moment) they’re not buying from you. My adage is that “everyone is a customer, it’s just that some of them haven’t bought from you yet.”
Your chance will come
Chances are that one day your opportunity will come. First, if the prospect likes you on a human level, they’ll be looking to give you a chance. Second, there will be an occasion when their favoured supplier lets them down. They’re out of stock on a particular product. Or, they mess up with a delivery, or the new version of the product is poor quality, etc, etc. It is likely that any rival competitor however good will mess up at some point. And you’ve guessed the rest. If you’re the next best option, YOU are likely to get that call ‘out of the blue.’ Only it’s not really ‘out of the blue,’ you’ve been working towards it for a while of course.
The other key factor I’ve found over many years that determines the likelihood of business, is the person at the customer’s company that you’re dealing with. Not whether they use your type of products or services, not your pricing, not your product range, not your location, not your brand reputation, no it’s all about the person.
I’ve had examples where I’ve been told politely, but firmly that there is no chance of any business EVER at their company for training because ……………… whatever. And on the face of it, you feel tempted to cross them off your prospect list. And yet, you call back in a year’s time, the person you were dealing with before has left and the new decision-maker has new ideas, and wants to hear yours. I have benefited from this more than once. Regrettably, I have also lost accounts for this reason too. I dealt with 2 key contacts at a great I.T. software house client years ago. I did a good amount of work with them over a few months which was well received. But my key contact Steve left and took up a GM role with the same company in Japan. His boss left too, and I never got another piece of work out of them. Their business model was the same, their team stayed the same size (for a while at least.) But I didn’t earn another penny from them!
You win some, you lose some. If you want to talk to someone external about your tactics for dealing with prospect accounts, talk to us at To Market. We run training all over the East and West Midlands, including Leicester, Northampton, Kettering, Wellingborough, Corby, Nottingham, Derby, Sheffield, Milton Keynes, Bedford, Cambridge, Newmarket, Bury St. Edmunds, Peterborough, Rugby, Warwick, Coventry, Leamington Spa, Kenilworth and Birmingham. Contact us 01858 461148 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.