What makes a great client? What makes a client great? (Did I just ask the same thing?) What drives the sales community to go the extra mile for a client? I am sure that we as sales professionals have had enough client interaction to have formed plenty of opinions on the best and worst traits of our clients! I can think of many clients in the past who were amazing to deal with. That motivated me to work harder on their behalf and do more – because it felt right and it was the right thing to do. I am not saying it is right to to be less sensitive to your difficult clients, but it just does feel the same. I wish more clients understood that…we want to do the best we can, and it is much more likely to happen when we are treated well.
I was making a list not long ago about the attributes of my best clients. So, for the first time at ToddCohen.com, I am offering my “TOP 10” list of the qualities of my most amazing clients in the last 20+ years. In no order of importance here they are: offering mutual trust and kindness, being responsive, communicating the status of the sales campaign to me, being brave about being an early adopter, returning calls and emails, negotiating in good faith and with integrity, giving plenty of feedback (whether positive or negative), listening to my ideas and thoughts, not rushing the sales campaign, and treating me with respect.
Do you see a common thread in the above attributes? When I wrote the list and looked at it (a few dozen times), it occurred to me that my best clients ever were very open and communicative with me. This made it very easy to manage the sales campaign because I knew where I stood at all times! My favorite clients always were available to me and communicated effectively throughout and after the sales campaign. They made sure I knew what I was dealing with, and that in turn made it easier for me to be more effective and give them what they needed. They viewed me as a valued partner not just a vendor. That makes a huge difference in the tone and tenor of everything. My best clients were champions for my product, my company, and for me. I think great salespeople take that very seriously and make sure it is honored.
OK, sales community – your turn! What are your clients’ best and worst attributes?
5 thoughts on “Great Clients”
I agree that openess and communication are important in any client/provider relationship.
It seems to me that there is another underlying factor behind all these attributes — the buyer understood the “business value” of what you could bring to his or her organization and was therefore willing to take a risk, to be a coach to you, to be a champion for you.
None of that happens automatically. I hold that great clients come from great sales people — sales people who listen to their clients, come to understand their needs, and work to “create” this value in the clients’ minds. Clients aren’t born understanding your business value, so they aren’t born being good clients. You have to create them.
Great points! I am a passionate believer that we as sales professionals must own the responsibility to educate our clients and do it well. Clients must also want to be educated though-I have many who entertain a sales presentation or sales campaign because they are told to..and not because they want to. Then they are not open to being shown the value proposition. I will be exploring this topic more in an upcoming weekly column.
Oliver, great insight on the business value. I think the home-run client is the one where you also complement the personal value.
I have had to ask my best client’s for favors before, to either accelerate their buying cycle or get creative with me, to achieve a personal need. The best clients are the ones who do that without hesitation, because they are as committed to your success as much as you are committed to the success of them and their organization. When they can’t live without you and are devoted to your success as their account exec, to Oliver’s point, you’ve then created a good (great?) client!
Todd, to piggy back on your last comment, there are also clients or prospects that I have encountered who will entertaint a sales campaign and then comment on it to your biggest competitor. While you may say that this is normal, I have had it happen where the prospect had already decided to go with my competitor prior to my presentation and used my presentation as a leverage device to gain a better deal. I have often viewed this as unethical, but it does happen alot.
I do agree that gaining a client’s trust is a prolonged exercise, but once it is established it will open doors to a great many opportuniies.
I think this is not so much about “normal” and more about recognizing the fact that it happens. Hopefully, we can balance our sales careers by dealing with more who do not do this then with those who think its OK..