Client research has been my theme the last few weeks. In my last post, I listed 10 cricital things to know about your client before entering into a meeting or negotiation. Did you find them out? I promised to dive deeper into a few of the recommendations so this week, we’ll do just that.
Knowing Your Company’s History with the Client
Client history with your firm is essentail for you to know before you enter into new conversations. Networking inside your organization to understand who has spoken to your prospect/client, what offers were presented to them and what the outcome was from these offers is critical to understanding the full picture of the client and their propensity to do business with your organization. People talk. They also remember a person’s inappropriate or professional behavior and what offers were previously presented to them. It’s invaluable to speak with colleagues who have done business with the people you are in communication with now. By understanding who these people and their values you can understand how they negotiate.
Market share currently captured by your client
What your client tells you is their market share and what actually is their market share can be different. You know you have a solid relationship with your client when they open up and tell you their actual share point and what they are worried about in the next fiscal year. I have often asked a client who they benchmark against and what they are envious of with their competitive set. This gives me a solid understanding of their challenges and how to shape my recommendations to them.
I can’t say enough about the essentiality of understanding each client’s respective decision making food chain along with who sits at their first and second table [see my blog post about this]. Every client has a unique decision tree that needs to be understood, respected and romanced. By first and second table I mean, understanding the goals of the execs you are meeting with at your table, the first table; along with who sits at the second table, the internal table your client sits at without you. Understanding these decision makers and what their challenges are become critical to the decision process.
Try learning these three essential bits of client information and let me know if you find yourself more confident entering client meetings. I look forward to hearing from you.