All successful sales professionals are strategic thinkers. By strategic thinking, I mean that they are always looking for new ways to penetrate their accounts and prospects, they are always looking for new ways to grow and develop their relationships, and they are always looking for new ways to make their customers more successful.
Source: Sales trainer/author Paul S. Goldner
Recently, I read a story about a sales professional who lost a major account. He was obviously upset over the loss and tried very hard to regain the business, but his efforts were without success. The salesperson was trying to penetrate the account using old ideas. He went back to the same people he had always worked with and presented them with the same ideas. They saw no reason to change back to him.
Finally, he started working with a person that he had never worked with before, a manager assigned with the task of moving the company into a new marketplace. They had no experience in the new market and the salesperson saw the manager struggling over his decisions. When the salesperson began to question the new manager, he learned that the manager was moving into a market that the salesperson had worked in, on a prior job.
While the salesperson had no opportunity to make a sale, he was able to help the manger with some of his decisions. To me, successful salespeople differentiate themselves on the quality of their ideas, and our salesperson had done just that. He went on to describe how the company began to view him differently, on the basis of the quality of his ideas.
The company began to request other information of the salesperson, all in areas where he had no opportunity to make a sale. Yet he helped anyway. Eventually, the company started to buy again. In fact, the salesperson was not only able to regain the account, he was able to grow it as well.
The key learning point of this story is that there are always a number of ways to approach an account. If you think strategically, you will use your creative imagination to develop new and innovative approaches in developing your customer relationships. If you think in a linear manner, you will only see one way to approach and develop a relationship.