You’re in the PRESENT and PROPOSE sales stages. Deep into the sales process, you’re building the customer relationship – extending it from the person you initially spoke with towards other important players on the customer team and your own. Mostly, customers want to know that you’re not the only person in the company who knows what s/he’s doing, unless you’re a one-person shop (in which case, tag, you’re it).

Customers want to be able to trust everyone and to use you as an escalation point. You don’t want to show up as a bottleneck. You also want to know the players on their side – who’s going to make the decision, how will others influence that decision, who will you be working with day-to-day if you move ahead with this deal and who needs to be a relationship with whom?

At a minimum, you want three roles in your company represented, even if these roles are combined into one or two people. Here’s who to bring to the party from your side:

  • The lead for the sale (Sales Person/Account Manager).
  • The lead for the work (Project Manager or other senior expert).
  • The lead for the customer relationship (Account Manager/Account Manager).

If you’re the business owner, don’t dominate the conversations. Allow your team members to show their strengths and speak for themselves. Prepare for customer meetings in advance, especially if your team hasn’t worked in this way before. Start to plan out who’s going to take care of what. Teamwork at this stage helps the transition to the actual work go smoothly, something customers like.

Maintain control of the sales process using the approach in ‘Being in Control’.

TIP: Your aim as you work on the relationship during the sales process is to give the customer peace of mind and to instill trust. Even if you never do business with this particular prospect, your reputation in the marketplace is built piece-by-piece from every encounter you ever have with people outside your company (and inside it, come to that). My favorite comment from a prospect is ‘I hope one day I’ll be big enough to afford you’. Don’t you just love it when they say things like that?

Next up: Confronting Reality