Guest Author: Bruce Walley
Position: Business Development Manager
Years with Champion: 6 years
In my role as Business Development Manager for Champion, I’ve come to realize that listening is the most important part of putting together a bid for a potential client. It’s not just the secret to closing a deal, it’s fundamental to the job as a whole.
When looking at a prospect, you may have some assumptions about how to approach that bid, but basing your bid on those assumptions is a straight path to failure. It’s impossible to correctly price and construct a bid without fully understanding the needs of the client and the only way to get there is by listening closely to what that prospect has to tell you.
Where companies get it wrong is by offering cookie cutter pitches and not listening to prospect specifics. They offer a one-size fits all model and that’s totally the opposite of understanding a client’s needs. The key is to focus on the specifics and then create a bid that proves you paid attention to even the smallest issues that need fine-tuning.
When a company is looking for bids from a security company, it’s because there is a problem that needs solving. When you look at it that way, you realize that you need to know exactly what it is going wrong in order to get things right. You have to understand their main pain points if you want to come up with a bid that will work to relieve them.
For that to happen, you have to let the client vent. They want to tell you their problems, otherwise there wouldn’t be a meeting to begin with, but you have to treat the first meeting as if it will be the last. You can’t go into a prospect meeting, half listen and only get half the information because then you’ll miss the mark by a country mile and you won’t get another chance. As a sales person, my role isn’t to add much to the conversation. Instead, I’m there to take away as many specifics and nuances as I can. I always tell my operations team that the most important thing you can bring to a client meeting is a pen.
The best way to establish trust with a client is to ask relevant questions and then show them you’re listening through your actions. A good place to start is asking what the best form of communication is for them. If they say email me and I call them the next day, that shows them that my company doesn’t listen. I’m the face of the company in these situations and I need to show the company’s standards. At Champion, one of our core values is “Service Obsessed,” which means when a client tells us how to make them happy, we’re going to do exactly that.
We need our prospects to believe that we’re listening to them. It’s not about selling features and benefits, it’s about them having the confidence that we understand their problems and can fix them. If their main problem is tardiness and guards missing from the desk and I put together a bid that is about the appearance of the guards and how they address guests, then I’ve missed the whole point which was how to solve their issue of tardiness. I’m throwing them something that I think they need instead of what they actually need.
Inattention to details has consequences beyond the bid as well. So much about executing a security account successfully comes down to matching the right person to the right post. When I fully understand a prospect’s problems, I can pass that information to my team and we can assign the right person to that post to solve it. On the other hand, if I don’t pay attention and give the wrong information to my operations team, it’s going to be an account that never works out and that will be my fault for not listening from the beginning.
I’ve always thought my best tool as a BDM is my ability to listen. I want the prospect that I’m working with to see that all the way through their interactions with me, from that first meeting to a bid that touches on the specifics of what they need to the first day on post where the first thing our people do is address the problems we heard about in that first meeting. It’s so important to gain the client’s trust so we can come up with solutions to their problems and then follow through all the way.
When you can gain that trust and deliver, you not only do a good job for the client, you then get a referral and are able to do it all over again with another prospect. At Champion, a lot of sales I make are based on referrals because we’re tried and tested.
If you’re unsatisfied with your current security provider, give us a call or fill out this form for a free quote. We promise to listen and deliver.