Complacency. Taking things for granted. Feeling entitled.
These three terms often lay dormant in the mind of many a salesperson until it is too late. That moment when you realize your anchor account opted to share some of their business with your most feared competitor tends to dredge these ideas from the bottom of you worries. Too often betrayal or blame is easy to assign, saving yourself from the pain of introspection and admitting there is no one else to be at angry at but yourself. And by then the entire account may now be the gem in someone else’s crown of accounts.
What happened, or in many cases, what did not happen?
The first place to look is in the mirror. A true professional must admit his or her mistakes, and that demands that there is no time to play the role of victim. A victim’s fate is determined by the whims or desires of others. The long-term survivability of a victimized salesperson tends to be lagging. Did you overvalue a relationship by making it more personal than it should have been? Did you believe that your prize account knows no one is perfect and you downplayed the lack of follow up on a service issue? Perhaps you went as far as to believe that all the things you had done for this client entitled you to a life of immunity from competitive attacks? Take your pick, but all three of these examples are going on all over the professional sales landscape every single day, and every single day there is a salesperson that is more than surprised by the news they just got from a client who they thought would never switch.
The truth is that yesterday’s value-added performance becomes tomorrow’s expectation. That means that you better be constantly making sure you know what to do to become the competitive advantage with all your customers and clients. Another truth that one cannot ignore is that the best place for your competitor to prospect is at your best accounts because there is always a chance you were not being as vigilant as necessary to protect your asset. Yesterday is over, the scoreboard in clean and the new game starts today. Do not assume that your customer believes that what you thought was going above and beyond for them is truly above and beyond. They may think it is the norm and failing to maintain that standard may open the door to others.
Sales is game with both offense and defense; offense is going after new business wherever and however you can, while defense is making sure you are protecting those client relationships and continued business. Do not allow yourself to be a player on only one side of the ball.