Aim to be second string

We’ve a General Election coming up next summer and the result seems to be well predicted. After 13 years of Labour rule, the public want a change…the present government seem to have run out of ideas and steam and the opposition are right on their heels offering innovation, energy, fresh new ideas and some new faces to replace those we’ve gown accustomed to over the last 13 years.

And this reminded me of something really important in selling particularly B2B selling to corporate clients.

Last week I was doing some telephone based coaching with a sales team following a workshop we did in the summer. Looking to help them apply their learnings from the training and discuss successes, I stumbled into a surprise question.

Paul, I’ve asked to call upon businesses where…well quite frankly we’ve failed in the past and they’ve got into bed with another provider…where do I start?”

This challenge is very relevant today as we strive to become consultative and trusted advisers with our corporate clients, but if they are happy with another provider who has already achieved that coveted status…the brick wall ahead of us feels like granite.

The aim should not be to become their preferred provider, although that should be your ultimate goal. No, the medium term aim is to become their second provider. The provider on the periphery, slowly building trust and respect and providing value.

Now once we change our mindset it changes completely our strategy. We have a goal that is highly achievable and one which the client will buy into.

Over time, we look for openings where we can demonstrate our skills or provide our product, but initially our aim is to re-build the trust, rapport, build bridges as the second string supplier.

And you just never know…there may be a General Election and you’ll get voted in as the provider of excellence offering a fresh new face and a modern manifesto.