Congratulations! You just inked a major deal that you’ve been working on for the past six months. You carefully worked the deal through a complex buying process, beating out your major competitor in the process. Your quota is almost clinched for the quarter. Time to focus on those other prospects that you have shortchanged recently in the hope of making it over the finish line.
Sound familiar? If so, you just fell into the Won & Done Trap. That is, assuming that once a deal moves into the implementation phase, the engineering and customer service teams can take over, and you are free to go out and hunt for more game. Big mistake! Implementation is a critical time to stay tightly connected with your account, to assure your customer gets the promised value, and the competition doesn’t swoop in with lower prices to snatch the next opportunity.
What are the risks of disconnecting once the deal is signed?
- Service problems become top of mind for the account. No implementation is trouble-free, and lots of emails will change hands to resolve service issues. What happens if your sponsor leaves before the next deal comes around? The only paper trail the next manager will see is a string of problems.
- Poor training/implementation can undermine your value. It doesn’t matter who slipped up in the training. If key users don’t know how to use your product or feel threatened by the “new” way of doing things, they won’t get the full value you promised and you end up holding the bag.
- Competitors see blood and jump in. At Holden, we call these folks the Crafty Outsider or the Patient Outsider. These competitors wait in the wings and look for signs of dissatisfaction in your account. They will provide a laser focus on price and stoke fears that the customer overpaid.
Instead of Won & Done, the benefits of staying engaged and building the value story are many:
- Validate value promises. You should monitor every step of the implementation and work with your key champion to measure and report financial value delivered (e.g. increased revenue, reduced discounting, increased profits). Document these results in Value Files that both you and the client maintain on an ongoing basis.
- Compelling content for your first Quarterly Business Review (QBR). Report Value File results in each QBR post-implementations. Share key trends, suggest changes in the use of your solutions to improve results. If possible, have your key champion present Value File results to allow that person to earn the much-deserved credit.
- Foundation for C-suite trusted advisor role. Sharing financial impact in an open and transparent manor is key to becoming a trusted advisor to the C-suite. Focus the client on your differential value to turn the conversation away from price and leave less room for the competition to move in.
The sales cycle does not have any beginning or end when dealing with existing accounts. Levels of engagement may have ebbs and flows, but “going dark” is never an option for accounts that form the foundation of your company’s book of business. Trust is built slowly, over time, and once your customer believes you deliver the value you offer, the need to prove your value and discount your price decreases. In its place, is a trusted partnership with your most important accounts.
**For more on how to measure value, see http://www.holdenadvisors.com/pricing/value-workshops/