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Converting Leads Part 1 was all about the prospects, and we’re now diving into Part 2: Converting Leads, with existing clients—selling after the close.
George is back with Part 2 of Converting Leads on this episode of the Master Sales Series. You’ve closed the deal, you’ve won the sale, it’s time to celebrate, right? Yes, but there’s still work to be done. George explains the concept of looking at existing partners whose accounts are still active and treat them as a lead. Treat them the same and establish regular rhythms of communication and keep building the relationship. As stated previously, always be adding value. The biggest take away is to generate advocacy – turn happy clients into your best sales resource.
George: The long-standing battle, leads, they’re good, they’re bad, too many, not enough, marketing’s winning, sales is winning. How do we get everybody to win? And what I would like to now think about, let’s not think about us as salespeople or let’s not think about as marketers, let’s not think about us as agencies, media companies, whatever we are as an organization, let’s think about the customer. Let’s become customer-obsessed. I’ve been assigned a new role in 2020 and that role is to embody the voice of the customer back to our organization. As organizations grow in size, more and more people are touching the customer and we’ve built our business around being customer-obsessed. All you have to do is talk to one of our long-standing customers and they will say, that is the very best organization we’ve ever worked with. So my boss sits me down and says, “You know, you got a big loud voice, you’re a blowhard, you got broad shoulders, go out there and work with our customers, which is what you’re good at and come back and help our organization in the way that they deal with customers.” So this entire episode is dedicated to this year of the customer and being very customer-focused, and I wanna talk about our existing clients. I’m gonna talk about the people who feed our kids. They’re the ones that are paying their hard-earned money for whatever sort of solution that we are delivering to the client. Coming up next on the Conquer Local Podcast.
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George: There’s an enormous opportunity within existing customers because these are the people that become repeat customers, you renew the contract, number two, if you position yourself as a trusted local expert, they just phone you and ask you questions about the space that you’re in and I love that. I’ve always, it took me a number of years in my early sales career to figure out that, that was an important piece to being seen as the one that had the great ideas and could come up with the creative plans and could navigate this world of marketing. And even back then, in the Stone Age, when I started the horse and buggy days when we walked two miles to school every day on shards of broken glass uphill, even in those days, it was super confusing to the customer. I met one of my long term customers last week, and they said, “Those things that you and I used to talk about 20 some odd years ago, we still struggle with them today.” And that’s where some of our best relationships come from, those of us with old gray hair or, but those are the problems that we’ve always had as business people is who do I trust? Who’s the person that’s going to give me the straight goods? At least 90% of the time, that’s the people that we like doing business with. And the reason that we trust them is because they have a track record of delivery. So when we look at what we were doing weeks ago, or whenever you listened to that previous edition, where we talked about leads, we’re gonna deploy the exact same tactics against existing customers, review the notes.
George: One thing that I like to do is I have all my best customers in my, I have them as a Favorites tab in my phone and I’ll go through them. I’ll click on those influencers and I’ll go, I haven’t talked to so and so in a long time and I’ll just pick up the phone and dial them. And I might get through and I might not get through but I’ll tell you what I always do, I always send a text message saying, “Hey, I was just thinking about you. I wanted to message because I’ve got something that I think is important that I wanted to talk to you about, call me back anytime, it’s not pressing.” And again, that’s like, yeah, I wanted to talk to you, but it’s to deliver some value, it’s not just to see how you were doing, not if you’ve working with them for 10 years, they named their kid after you, you were their godfather for their baby, then you could say, “Hey, I’m just checking in to see how the family is and can’t wait to have a bourbon with you.” But as you go through that list of favorites, it’s just that whole thing of making sure that you are top of mind and you’re keeping that prospect, who now is your client top of mind as you go through your day to day life.
Always Do Your Research
George: Keep double-checking your research, Owler is a great tool. Also inside reputation management, not that we like to talk about our stuff, but let me tell you inside reputation management, you can set up reputation management account, go into the Mentions tab, put in all of your customer names, put in all of the prospects that you’re or the clients that you’re dealing with. And when something happens like they release their annual earnings, or that person gets a promotion and a press release goes out, that reputation management account just pops up that information to you in the Mentions tab and you can have it delivered in your daily digest, I use it all the time. Whether you use that tool or not, we’d love for you to do that, ’cause we’re trying to feed our kids but just find a tool that will allow you to creep on those people that you are dealing with today, so you can find out the things that are going on. It’d be so great to just be on that next call with a customer and say, “Hey, I just noticed that you got a promotion, congratulations, that’s really exciting.” ‘Cause they’re probably not gonna get on the call and say, “Yeah, I got a promotion.” But by you knowing about it, it’s almost expected. Isn’t it almost expected?
George: Now, I went off Facebook a year ago in my personal life and I have been meeting up with some friends. And I just happened to last week meet a friend who I’ve known for 10, 15 years and then I hadn’t talked to for 15 years. The conversation was like, “So tell me what’s been happening with you?” And they’re like, “Well, don’t you know?” The expectation was because of social media, that you just knew what was going on in their lives. They had another baby and they’ve opened up four or five new businesses and they’re just kicking ass. Now if they’re on LinkedIn, because I believe LinkedIn is critical to a person running a business, I should know that. So my point is, is there is this expectation from your client who is paying you, and depending upon how much they’re paying you, for you to use some sort of tool to know what’s going on with them, or maybe even with their competitor. So the next time that you have that, call, you could say, and this is where your research comes in important, where you say, I know this customer so well, I know who their three competitors are, I know that, that competitor, just increased the value in their offering, I better call and help.
George: And this is where we get out of that mentality of I’m gonna drive my product and service down their throat, to hit my budget, to achieve my goal. And you start thinking about how your solution and the things that you offer inside your stack can help that client achieve their goal. It’s a total shift in mindset where you’re focused on the outcome of the client. If you take care of needs analysis, and you take care of presentations, and you take care of putting enough effort into the deal to move it through the pipeline, the closes will just take care of themselves but it all starts with research. It starts with developing, where am I going? So you think of your existing customer base is an amazing set of leads, that’s what you need to think of them. There’s more money there. What we hope when we’re converting leads out here in the wild, is we can get a couple more in that act like those ones, we want the repeat customer, we want the customer where we can add value, we want the customer where we can get more things installed. Now is it self serving? Sure, it is a little bit self-serving because we know from data points across 200,000 businesses that we’ve been tracking for over three years, that those businesses that have more than four things that they are being delivered by a partner have some sort of managed service layer over top of them, have a regular touchpoint with the solution that you’re delivering, either opening an email, answering a phone call for a QBR, monthly strategy call, they have a 30 to 40% higher retention rate than all the other customers out there.
George: So by delivering more value, which also was selling more things, by having more regular touchpoints with that client, you have a longer lifetime value from that customer. You have a happier customer, you have somebody that’s more apt to ask you for things when they have a need to rise in their business, because you are the holy grail is to become the trusted local provider.
Learn the Best Way to Contact Existing Customers
George: Now, make sure that you’re making the call. We remember back to our first episode, we talked a lot about this where I find people just give up too quick and when it’s with an existing customer, this is the crazy part, some of the biggest clients that I’ve been working with for the longest period of time, who I know trust us, who I know find enormous value from our solutions, I have to phone them the most times to get them on the phone but they’re also the busiest and they probably don’t need me. They’re like, no, I gotta go over here and do this deal. I gotta work with this team, I just let go this Vice President, I gotta get into this market and help them succeed, I can talk to George anytime. And that’s when you have something of enormous value that will help that customer meet some need that they gave you, maybe eight, nine months ago, and the stars have aligned, your manager comes to you and says, “Yeah, we have more of these, “we’ve gotta move this inventory.” Does that ever happen to you? Where it’s like, “Hey, we’ve got excess inventory here, we’re prepared to offer it at a lesser price.” And the people we should do that with is our existing clientele, where we know that they have this need that they mentioned to us months ago and now the stars have aligned and I can help them with that.
George: So, when I talk about making the calls, emails, text messages, LinkedIn, Facebook, whatever your preferred method of communicating, I’ve got a whole corpus of customers that I only talked to through WhatsApp. They’re European, they’re in Africa, that’s the way that they like to communicate. I send them an email, I could wait a year to get a response. I sent a text message, I might get something back but I send a WhatsApp, I know they’ve read it and I usually get a response quite quickly. So, utilize whatever tool you need to do to make the contact with the client but don’t give up too quick on this.
Find What Is Important to Your Customer
George: And then when you don’t close the deal, it’s okay. I think part of the relationship that you have with the long term customer, and the value that you bring to that long term customer is to say, “I just wanted to revisit this idea “and see if things have changed with your organization.” If it’s something that you feel very strongly about, and I’m gonna tell you something that I feel enormously strongly about and I’ve I felt this way since we invented it years ago. I’m looking back and I don’t really think that responding to reviews as an agency on behalf of a business was a thing. I think it might have been happening randomly but I think that the very first time was about 2011, 2012, where we really got it into a repeatable model, where organizations were able to take it out and make it a multimillion-dollar line of business. And I’m gonna keep bringing that up over and over and over again, to my partners if they have not captured that, because anybody that is using that, I’m watching them make dollars, I’m watching them keep customers, I’m watching them drive more value. So this is one of those things where I have yet to have research to tell me that I’m off base on this. In fact, all of my research shows me that this thing more people should be doing it. So I just keep bringing it up over and over again, even when people have said, “No, I don’t think it’s a fit. “I think it’s too expensive. My customer base won’t pay that amount.”
George: And you know what just happened a week ago, someone that I had presented that line of business to, for four bloody years, finally came forward and said, “We need to do that.” Because their star is aligned, the things inside their organization aligned to this and it might be, we need more incremental revenue to hit our goal. And in these customers, I think it’s really important to dig really deep into what is a win for them.
George: One of my elevator pitches that I like to use in this and to those of you that I’ve worked with that are customers will know you’ve heard this for me, Christmas is coming and we’re gonna arrive on December 23 and I’m gonna phone you or maybe we’ll be lucky enough to be sitting face to face, having a bourbon, celebrating the year. And what is the sentence or sentences or paragraph that you would like to say to me, where together, we crushed it? And then let that just marinate with the client. It’s like setting, I wanna understand what their goal is, I wanna understand what a win is for them and then I’m gonna go to work and I’m going to align everything and the resources at my avail and for those of you that are either just starting an agency, and it’s one person or those of you that are working for some of our biggest customers, you have never had a bigger opportunity, because you have this marketplace that exists with more and more things being added to it all the time, where you can go and dig in there and bring items out and say I can help you get to that goal. But you need to understand what that, whether it’s a big hairy, audacious goal, or it’s something that they’re trying to achieve this year. I really would like to know what that three-year window looks like for that client. And if it’s somebody you’ve been working with for longer than maybe a week or a month or a year, you can start to have those deeper conversations and I’d like you to audit the conversations that you have had with existing customers.
Are You Treating That Existing Customer as a Lead
George: So let’s go back to this, are you treating that existing customer as a lead? All right, here is one of the other wins. If you take care of your existing customers, you drive more incremental value, you solve more problems, you become more mission-critical, their retention goes up by 35% but here’s the other piece that happens, they now become advocates for new business. So remember back where I talked about the testimonial that I was able to give a prospect, wasn’t me it was somebody in the organization was able to reach out to this customer that loves us and get them on the phone with somebody that was considering loving us. But what happens when you go to a conference? What happens when they sit down with a group of their peers that they don’t compete with? If you’ve done an amazing job, they will bring your name up at that.
George: Again, a week ago, LinkedIn message comes through from somebody I haven’t talked to for five years. We finally get on the phone and I wanted to talk to him, great guy and I said, “Hey Bryce, good speaking to you.” He says, “You know, I’ve been talking to a couple of organizations, and all they keep talking about is you.” Now, it wasn’t me, it was our organization but that’s what I’m talking about, is that advocacy, it’s like, you should probably talk to X, those folks know what they’re doing. You turn your happiest customers into the very best sales resource that any of us could have, our referral engine. And that comes from doing a great job, but it also comes from keeping that top of mind awareness and it comes from doing things like, sending out little reminders and newsletters, other communications that you can deliver through your marketing team, holding networking events to build an authentic community, or maybe even going as far as your own conference, where you bring your biggest customers in and they can just mingle with potential customers. So think about that as the, that’s the big win out of all this. There are a number of other wins but that big win is where you just get the referrals at the end of the day.
George: So one of our goals this year was that George would do a better wrap up of the topics covered in episode and I always like to make producer Colleen happy, so let’s do that quickly. Number one, review your notes, or any files you have on the client, so the client here, we need to also double check our research and make sure we have some sort of a tool that is giving us the information on that prospect, what’s going on inside their organization. If they’re large enterprise deals, you’ll need to do further research. Make sure that you’re setting a clear objective and delivering value for the new solutions that you’re bringing forward and keep bringing those solutions forward unless you have new data or new research that points you in another direction. Item number four is, keep deploying the effort, whether that’s calls, emails, texts, links, LinkedIn messages, WhatsApp, whatever it is your preferred communication is and sometimes change it up. You’ve just been texting and you’re not getting the response or just emailing and not getting the response, change it up a little bit. Number five, when you don’t close, make sure that you keep bringing that value forward. So the stars haven’t aligned yet and that’s okay. The other thing is, you may not be closing the new opportunity, because you need to bring more people into the deal.
George: Now on an enterprise type deal, I have a new saying, not new for some of you that have been doing this for a while but I talk about it all the time, it takes a village. So that’s when you might wanna bring on another resource to the call. I was working with our friends from Videobolt yesterday and they have done a number of improvements to their platform and I was talking to Corey Saban and the team there and I’m like, “Why don’t we go back into some of the groups where we have already talked about your brand, but the things that you’ve done to innovate, have improved the experience and probably tick off the boxes that they had.” They’re like, “Oh, if this then we would move forward.” So we didn’t get a close when we brought it up a year ago, they’ve now innovated on their solution, I wanna present that again. And if we know something like SEO, for instance, is really important to them, and they’re working with another vendor, I’m going to constantly bring up the things that we have just to keep it top of mind, in case they wanna make that change.
George: So just keep on it because you may not close it today but if you keep delivering that information to them, the stars may align. Don’t just touch base or check-in, always have that plan and deliver that value. And then the final thing is, you want to generate that advocacy, turning your happy clients into your best sales resource. So while the best salespeople can make it seem like sales skills are built into a person’s DNA, these sales skills actually do take time, strategy and practice to develop. A lot of times when you were listening to a master sales training episode, it’s something that I struggled with recently. And that’s why I have those stories of, this just happened last week and this just because it spurred something where it’s like, we need to get back to those basics. This stuff right here, not rocket science. I’m sure there’s a lot of times you’re listening you’re like, “Yeah, no shit, Sherlock that’s something that I should be doing.” But what I’m hearing from season experts, is it’s great to be reminded.
George: What I’m also hearing from team leads, it’s great to be reminded so that they can take it to a meeting with a beginner, because those team leads and those coaches are working with new reps all the time, they’re like, “Oh, I really should talk about how to work with a prospect or how to work with an existing customer to expand our reach.” So, we want to work on improving these skills, that’s what the Master Sales Training Series is all about and we appreciate you joining us today for this episode, which was all about taking those existing clients and putting that prospecting mindset around them, treating them as leads, and extracting more value from those customers but also solving more problems to have a longer-term lifetime value from that client. My name is George Leith, thanks for joining us on the Conquer Local Podcast. I’ll see you when I see you.