“Get Closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need before they realize it themselves.”
– Steve Jobs
Having been working as a sales professional for over a decade, I have come to realise how there is more to it than just numbers. The generic organization-al title “Business Development Manager” also tends to confirm to the norm. It’s a representation of our role confined within a box – a role solely focused on the target (numerically) and leads one to channel all our energy on strategising as to how to achieve the aforementioned target. Thus, it was very refreshing to witness our titles being modified to CAT (Client Advisory Team). This was done after pondering a lot on our role, in accordance with the core values Of our organisation along with what we aspire to be, when we talk about being a Learning Partner of our client organisations.
Recently, all the CAT members from across different regions came together for our annual CAT MEET in Bangalore. It was an incredibly insightful 2-day event with various sessions planned and executed with perfection. While each session proved to be incredibly knowledgeable, one particular sessions has stayed with me. It was Day #2 and the session was conducted by our own Rakesh. It was formulated around the concept of “Client Perspective : What they look for in a Learning Partner.” It was an eye opening session that brought to surface the things I had been going about the wrong way, all along. The following are the key takeaways from the session –
Make Them Look Good
Our customers require that we make them a HERO in front of their colleagues, seniors, and the participants. We, as learning partners, have to ensure that they trust us enough to sit back while we take care of all their requirements.
Honesty and Authenticity
As Learning partners, show geniuine interest in the areas of concern / problems of the customer and present them with genuine and insightful discussions on the said topics. This further makes empathising with the client indispensable, as it will enable usto hold a conversation that proves to be productive for them.
Not Be Subjected to Another Sales Pitch
This is one area where we all usually get stuck. The pressure to convert every meeting into a fruitful sale often gets in the way of us actually listening to and understanding a client’s needs. We need to prioritise the client’s needs over just selling them another program. This is where we forget to build relationships.
Depth is discussions: As a CAT member of a Learning & Development organization, we need to be well read, have meaningful discussion, know about the things happening in the L&D space globally, the new technologies implemented, along with the potential psychometric tools. These tools can help create a wonderful impact on the client. It shows us in a very good light and can help build better relationships with the client.
Know Your Audience
It’s important to do your homework before meeting a potential client. A diligent research into the customer, their role, their background, their organization, organization issues, organization budgets, industry, what are they implementing for people development, and other such key points can help prepare more efficiently for the meeting in question.
This session reinforced the idea that the better we interact with our clients, the stronger our bond will grow and we will be able to gain their complete trust. This is truly the key to becoming an efficient and successful CAT member.