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The Unknown Variable Client
Blog / For Sales Pros / Feb 21, 2018 / Posted by Catherine Brinkman / 6022

The Unknown Variable Client


It’s that time of year: We are all setting our sales goals for 2018. We must make sure that we keep the spark alive with our current clients, because they are setting their 2018 goals too.

Businesses will have winning years, losing years, employees poached, employees retired, administration changes and negotiation battles.

This means that our sales can be up or our sales can be down. New leadership comes in or in some cases rebranding rolls out.

As the sales professionals, we need to be aware of the changes our current clients are going through. We need to be able to address their needs and have answers for them quickly.

But we need to be cautious of how their changes may affect our pipeline. It tends to be rare, but sporadically, one of the big kahunas we caught a few years back, may make vast changes in their initiatives and how they allocate funds this year. It’s a situation of, when one specific company is so important to our sales pipeline we cannot write them off, but we cannot count on them to come through for us in a clutch situation.

This big kahuna client is our pipeline’s unknown variable. Here are the 5 things to remember when dealing with our unknown variable:

1. Stay In Touch

When we suddenly don’t return phone calls, text messages or emails, that client going through transition knows that they have been sidelined. The connection and rapport that we’ve constructed over the years will diminish.

2. Be Honest

When we constantly hang out with our unknown variable client as though nothing is changing, we have the naive thought that things are going to work themselves out in the universe. We are taking an immense risk ourselves. If that company folds, or decides to no longer buy from us, we will be in a world of hurt in 2018.

3. Plan Better

When we have an unknown variable client, we need to plan better. The days of this company being our life saver towards the end of the quarter are over. It’s necessary to replace their sale amount by prospecting.

4. Cheer Strategically

We can’t be too much of a cheerleader. Politics within a company are tricky. If we pick a side, we risk hurting someone’s feelings later if the company business goes south and they close their doors.

5. Remain Trusting

To keep both parties open to sharing information regarding the current business climate, trust must remain high.

When this happens new ideas flourish. We’re able to upsell and cross sell as well as connect with our unknown variable client and others within the company. This will help us later. We have more champions to help close deals after their company’s transition phase.

The Unknown Variable

Properly done, the unknown variable can be fantastic. Suddenly, the client and sales relationship become relaxed. We are both on the same page. The stress of having to close the deal and move onto the next step is gone. We’ll notice that phone calls get shorter and lunches get longer.
The relationship between our client and ourselves grows as they will trust us more and more because we are riding the changes out with them. We too are unsure of the future of where that business relationship will go. Like any unknown variable this ride is one way to get a shot at keeping that big kahuna client and turning it into our number one client.

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About Author

A former sales executive and trainer with Dale Carnegie, Catherine built a book of business focused on technology and finance companies. That experience is used with sales teams to design collaborative sales campaigns which improve closing ratios and hone sales skills. Catherine lives in NYC.


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