Servicing a Client for a Fee or Simply Servicing a Client
Aug 26, 2009
I was playing golf the other day with a marketing guy. He heads a team of salespeople and was on vacation as I was. We both had our smart phones with us both checking email occasionally. I vowed that I would not take a call this week that would ruin my ability to take just one week off from work. About the 7th hole an email came in from one of my golfing partner's clients that simply set him off. Apparently he gave just one thing for his sales manager to follow-up on that day and she did not do it. Now the client was calling him. Needless to say he did not play well after that. This client was not a big client, was not even a client that had a large payday if the deal closed but what I quickly learned about this guy is that he was a lot like me. He believed in serving his clients no matter what! It was not the possible fee he would lose if this client were not taken care of that day it was about the service in promised this client that he was not delivering.
There really is three ways to go as a salesman. The first way is to only work on deals that maximize your personal payday and stop working on deals that do not achieve that. The second is to work on as many deals as you can and concentrate the majority of your efforts on deals that would produce the greatest return and learn when to cut off a deal if it is wasting your time with little chance of success. The third is to service all of your clients equally and bring each deal to a conclusion regardless of what the payday looks like. I have very successful salespeople who make it going in any one of these directions.
In further discussing this particular client that my golfing friend had problems with I learned that this client was given a price for services that was higher than one of his competitors but that the client still wanted to do business with him if he would be willing to lower his price to meet the competition. The reason was that they like the service that he was providing. My friend indicated that he was more expensive because he did provide the added service. This salesperson fell in the third way to go above. He had put a lot of time and effort to service this client properly. He knew that the payday was small initially but he also knew that if he could win this part of the business there were potentially larger opportunities down the road with this client. Also, given the economic times, he indicated that he did not turn down any business that was coming his way right now.
He was entering his 10th year in business and indicated that his biggest problem was learning when to cut loose a client. He felt that he prided himself on the service he provides and that often times that extra effort does not get rewarded.
I told him that I was "old school" myself that I believed that a salesperson only survives long term by providing service to all customers equally. In the end, clients will appreciate that effort and those smaller deals will become bigger deals in the future and they will also be your greatest source of referrals.
So you then have to ask yourself: Can you be at the top of your game continuing to work on deals that seem to be wasting your time with a small payday in the end? Yes and no. Obviously the client has something to do with it as well. If the client is working hard with you and is performing, then yes it is worth the time. If the client is not performing then you need to evaluate your time and effort with that deal.
I asked this guy where he ranked as a salesperson at this firm. He indicated that he has been in the top ten 8 of his 10 years. The firm has 200 salespeople.
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Written by: Hans Hansson
Hans Hansson is President of Starboard TCN Worldwide Real Estate Services as well as a member of the Board of Directors for TCN Worldwide Real Estate. Hans has been an active broker for over 24 years in the San Francisco Bay Area and specializes in office leasing and investments. If you have any questions or comments please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at (415) 765-6897. You may also check out his website, http://www.commercialspacefinder.com/.