The final stage of the Pipeliner Selling System is Cooperate. It corresponds directly to the Advocate stage of your buyer’s journey.
Ideally the dynamic of the relationship, in this stage, has changed from that of vendor-buyer to much more of a partnership. You’re no longer selling to that buyer—you are that buyer’s partner in continuously helping their company succeed. One very key reason for doing so is that the better your buyer (and other contacts at the company) succeed, the moreyour product or service is going to succeed at that company. This is also true for any additional products or services you provide to them.
A Continuing Understanding
Your keen understanding of the customer and their needs has been part of these stages from the beginning. But as you’ve already seen, it doesn’t end with the close—in fact the close was just the beginning of an entirely new cycle.
Your understanding must now take place on an ongoing basis. This understanding can be gained through actions such as:
Metrics: You can put various metrics in place to ensure the customer is actually using the product, and benefiting from it.
Milestones: You can set up various milestones for proactive ways to connect and collaborate with the customer throughout the lifetime of their engagement with you.
Check-in calls: One form of reaching out is regularly schedule check-in calls. These calls should not simply be to get an order for more licenses or sell the customer another product; you’re finding out all-around how it’s going with your product or service and their company in general.
Quarterly business reviews: Quarterly business reviews are a good barometer of how your product or service is helping customers meet their targets and quotas, or even how an additional product or service from your company could help them even more.
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A company is adynamic entity, constantly changing. In any communication to your customer, you should be validating their original reasons for purchase in the first place, and finding out what might have changed. “Here are the reasons why you initially wanted to buy this product. Is it still meeting those needs? Have those business needs changed?” Just because somebody buys your product to solve a certain problem today doesn’t mean that in 6 months it will still be the same problem they need to solve. Or, perhaps your product solved it, but now they have another issue.
As we find out in the 6 Fundamental Principles Found in Pipeliner CRM, there is often a hidden opportunity within every change—if you watch for it. Always stay well-informed, and be ready to bring value at different moments. There are assets and tools that you can share at different times to help them.
We’ve all heard stories in which the champion of a certain product leaves—and the product dies on the vine.
Changes also apply to personnel. People change jobs, roles, they move around. It’s incredibly important that you keep up with these changes and understand what they mean within the organizationand to your product or service. Who is the owner of it now? If one of your key contacts moves out into another job, how do you ensure that there is a nice handover and that they’ve introduced you to the right person so you can bring them up to speed?
These are things that can make or break a client relationship. We’ve all heard stories in which the champion of a certain product leaves—and the product dies on the vine. A new person comes in and has no interest in it because there was no process of managing that handover. So this is definitely another key reasonto maintain a regular, smooth relationship with the client.
The End Goal: Advocacy
If done right, where does all this lead? Well beyond just asking them to be a reference or write a review of your product—you’re ensuring great repute in the conversations they have when you’re not in the room; when, for example, someone connects to them on LinkedIn and asks them about your product or service.
At the end of the day, that’s where the real money is: the reference that they’re giving you that you never know about, that’s not done in public, that’s privately done in networking venues whether online or off. And that is where you move them from being a Customer to being an Advocate.
We will only advocate for people who have somehow made our lives better—that’s why your investment in the Cooperate phase is absolutely crucial.