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Stop being pigeonholed

You’ve built a good rapport with your client. You are delivering and producing results. but do your clients know your full potential? Often our clients remember our initial offering and can’t imagine us producing new or different services. Don’t get frustrated when this happens, it’s actually your own doing.

Being pigeonholed by clients is a common problem for many businesses. A salesperson needs to be fully aware of the business’s scope so they can make sure clients are made aware of what’s actually on offer. Representing the whole business message is a key role of any salesperson, but as an account manager, it’s important to keep clients informed of new and existing opportunities as well as managing the day-to-day work of your current commitment.

New business is a key factor for growth and new business can come from many sources. New prospects are one thing, but existing clients can also present new business opportunities for you.

I have learned this lesson from experience. When Barrett was launched in 1995, I wanted to develop my own products but I had to have something to sell, so I was also a distributor of the Call Reluctance Assessment – SPQ*Gold where I could sell direct and build sub-distribution licenses.

The SPQ*Gold was relatively new to the market back then and had a real competitive edge, and I did such a good job selling it, my business became the number three distributor in the world for this tool.

However, to grow my business on solid foundations I needed to develop my own products… so I did. Six years later, 80 percent of my revenue came from my own products, such as sales training modules, sales simulations, sales recruitment kits, sales performance management systems, etc. Less than 20 percent come from other product manufacturers. Now, 16 years on, I own over 200 items on my IP (intellectual property) Assets Register. What I couldn’t grasp was that while I was busily introducing these new products, my clients didn’t want to know about them. I was pigeonholed as ‘SPQ Sue’. I had done such a great job growing the SPQ*Gold brand in the Australian marketplace that people thought it was my product.

So a new job for me became changing the perceptions and mindsets of my clients while simultaneously developing new products that worked. This took a long time. They (the client) weren’t to blame – it turns out I had done such a good job building loyalty and brand awareness for this tool and my expert use of it that I had inadvertently confused my brand with another company’s key product.

It took six to eight years to position myself in my client’s eyes as a best practice provider of sales and sales management training, sales assessments, sales coaching, and sales consulting.

My brand slowly became recognized as a sales transformation and sales mastery business rather than just an assessment business. Now with careful planning, consistent messaging, and persistence we are known in our own right, and SPQ*Gold is only part of what we offer.

So to avoid being pigeonholed by your clients here are some tips:

  • Clarify your message for everything you do.
  • Regularly contact your clients and prospects to keep them informed about your service offerings. This can be face-to-face, newsletters, project updates, etc.
  • Present your products and services to make sense to your clients and the marketplace – not just to you.
  • Cover all your client’s priorities. This gives you the opportunity to discuss your broader capabilities and show them you can work outside what you already do.
  • Present your offering as a system which can work as a whole or in parts, and
  • Always tailor your offering to meet the client’s needs and wants.

So, time to think about your clients and how they see you. Are there opportunities that aren’t being harnessed? Do they know you as well as you know them? If not, time to let them know and let them help you grow your business and give them what they need to grow theirs.

Sue Barrett is an experienced business speaker and adviser, facilitator, sales coach, training provider, entrepreneur and founder of Barrett Consulting.

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