Nick had finally started selling his company’s product on a steady basis. For the past nine months, it had been rough finding enough clients who wanted to buy. Now he was comfortable knowing that his commissions were going to be enough to cover his basic expenses. But something was nagging him in the back of his mind.
I’m going, he thought to himself, flat-out every day, six, sometimes seven days a week, and I’m just making enough to cover expenses. How do I find more time to sell more so that I can actually save some money?
Well, he thought, there is only one solution. I need clients who buy more often than the ones I currently have. And the new clients will buy in bigger dollar amounts.
So Nick sat down on Sunday afternoon, his first day off in nine months, and calculated the dollar amount of business he needed to generate to really prosper. He then divided that total by the number of clients he thought he could handle.
Damn, he thought, that’s one big pile of clients. I could save time by dropping some of the clients I have now to one of the new guys. A couple of the nickel-and-dime accounts. And that would free me up to go after the really big ones. Boost their buying. Yeah.
Nick knew that this decision was going to throw him back into the 26-hours-a-day, eight-days-a-week work schedule. But that’s OK, he thought to himself with a grin. I can do it because I’m ready to go all the way. I can handle it. No problem.
Some four hours later, Nick had determined that just over half of his current clients could be turned over to one of the new salespeople. The time he would save by not servicing the nickels and dimes would be spent on pocketing the silver dollars.
Nick is going to be working 48 hours a day, twelve days a week! Perhaps he will find and sell those big clients. In the meantime, he will have thrown away all of the good work he has done for the past nine months without any realization of just how good it was.
Nick has been seduced by a common salesperson’s myth—that sitting out there, wherever “there” is, are the “big” clients just waiting to be approached. Once the lucky salesperson finds these big clients, obviously overlooked by every other salesperson in the world, the “just getting by” days are banished forever.
Along with this myth is the belief, held by many in sales, that small clients take a great deal of time for very little compensation. In other words, small clients hold the “real” salesperson back from the big time. The sooner you can “dump” the moms and pops, the better.
So, goes the reasoning, you can save time and make more money by going after those clients who can spend more money than the ones you currently have.
This all makes sense if you accept the faulty premise that the “big” ones, with more money to spend, are just sitting out there waiting for you to call on them. Do you really believe this?
The first step in evaluating your client base is to know what the client is buying from you and why. The second step is to learn from the client what else you might provide for him either now or in the future. In many instances the client’s response will be, “We don’t need anything else from you at this time.” Wimp salespeople accept this response. A sales professional would respond much differently.
“Excellent. Since this is not a sales call, we can talk off the record. Would you have any objection to telling me where you see your business in three years? I need to evaluate our future business relationship.”
This statement will quickly tell your client that you are a sales professional, not someone who is just looking for the quick buck. Second, you will learn what your potential sales will be to this client for the next year or two. Third, you are in the position of being in on the client’s planning. If you can provide some service or product at some point in the future that will enable the client to reach his goal, and you show him that now, you have just cemented a long-term business relationship.
Every million-dollar account started as a nickel-and-dime account. Every last one.