Opportunity knocks all the time. Sometimes we hear it—sometimes we don’t. I suspect the reason we may not hear it is because we are unclear on what to be listening for. A colleague of mine recently shared his version of the 3 opportunity or warning signs. Each of these can create an opportunity for you in a prospective account, or open the door for a competitor with one of your existing clients.
1) Real or perceived problem in the account
With a prospect you’ll only discover this by asking great questions and listening with the intent to understand the true nature of the problem. Asking how a problem impacts them and their business is a good place to start. If it’s a customer start by understanding this—even if the issue is “perceived” in the customers mind it is real. Treat it as such. The number one reason you lose accounts? The customer’s perception is you are indifferent to their problem.
2) Changes in personnel in the account
If there is a change in personnel with one of your prospects this can create an opportunity for you. I call it the “New Sheriff in town” syndrome. Often new people brought in to an organization at the decision making level are brought in because the last person didn’t make the right ones. Start by connecting with the new player by understanding what they want to accomplish and why it is important to them. Changes to key personnel with one of your existing customers? Same drill. Don’t take for granted you know what they expect. Make a point of connecting with them and demonstrating why you’re the right choice.
3) Expansion, reduction or change in business model
In business, as in life, “Shift happens”. When things shift in an organization, either up or down, it opens the door to doing things differently. When prospects go through a major change internally they are more open to who they do business with externally. When you clients experience a major shift the first step is to be in the know. You may not be the first to know, and you certainly don’t want to be the last. The best way to do this is never take your relationships for granted. Asking the question periodically “What is the most important thing you need to get done in the next 90 days”? is one way to start. The message is this: always stay connected and relevant to your customers by making sure you know what’s going on in their business.