Years ago, I was at an appointment with an account for which I had set a goal to grow the business significantly. While waiting to meet with the general manager, I could not help noticing the deflated sales rep leaving from the previous appointment. I wondered what went south as he glanced at me saying, “Good luck.”
Fiscal times were challenging in the construction industry, and I knew setting myself apart would be no easy task. As a young field rep with the drive to succeed, I had to ask myself, what are the key influencers for the sale I needed to earn consistent business?
My mind was racing with questions. What am I promoting? Is it myself, my products, my company? How can I effectively align my influence to increase value to the customer?
We all begin a meeting with the ability to influence the buyer and the sale. Do we leave with the meeting with same influence? Did the meeting provide value to both parties? Whether your buyer is a building owner, facilities manager, or real estate developer, given focus and attention these tips will directly maximize your influence with the customer and have a positive, lasting impact on your relationship.
Keep the Meeting Focused
What are your customer’s biggest challenges and goals? Are they most worried about speed of construction on a hotel project or overall project cost on the design of an elementary school?
Structure your meeting so it’s focused on your customer’s needs and how you can help meet them. Write your objectives down and send them to your client when setting your appointment. Ask them for feedback so you can ensure you’re in alignment. Outline tasks associated with each objective to help you stay on track.
Not only can the customer smell your sweat if you’ve lost direction and purpose during the meeting, but they can also gain the upper hand and pull away any momentum you came in with. It’s almost impossible to regain your positioning as the advisor when you’ve lost clarity for your purpose so know what you both want to achieve in the meeting, and stick to those goals.
Know your customer, trade, competition and market. As a product rep, my customers often look to me for expertise in product longevity, material properties, and installation methods. Remember, your customer is looking to you! Be the expert and become the advisor over your competition.
Here are a few ways to increase your credibility:
- Study and immerse yourself in your trade. Too many reps stop learning once they know the basics.
- Be a good, consistent listener.
- Understand the technical side of the business. Meet with technical experts and read forensic case studies.
- Find a mentor, ask for guidance, and be teachable.
Once you position yourself as a credible advisor, offer to teach others. Your leverage is now the wealth of your knowledge!
Always have a valid reason to visit a customer. This is the easiest way to influence a customer either positively or negatively, and it will leave a lasting impression.
Bring up your purpose before and during the meeting. The reason can be as simple as to tell them about a new product, update an order, or provide insight on market conditions.
The customer will appreciate what you bring only if it is going to benefit their position or business, so be prepared to show them the value in your purpose.
Know Your X Factor
Your X factor is your special sauce. It is the unique variable you bring to the table. It is in your approach, professionalism, candor, and how you react to the customer’s needs.
Once you learn to harness your own X factor, you’ll be able to utilize the true strength of your uniqueness, adding value and influence in all your relationship circles.
That meeting several years ago was an eye opener for me. I learned that sales and building relationships takes time and patience. But with the right focus, approach, and tools, you can harness the key influencing factors that will strengthen your relationships, build trust, and win more sales.
By simply applying these principals, I was successful at building customer loyalty and growing the business to meet my set goals. In coming months, I'll be sharing more of what I've learned working in the construction industry. Now it's your turn to become a key influencer.
Remember, the key to credibility is immersing yourself in your trade and learning the technical side of the industry. Subscribe to our blog and receive a monthly recap teeming with construction industry insight, product features and the tools you need to grow your business and advance your career.