Let’s assume you have actually closed a deal with a prospect. It could be a large deal or a small deal. You now have in your grasp that precious commodity – a customer!
Farming customers is about mindsets and execution.
Firstly you need to believe that over the next say 2 years, 730 days or so, you can add significant value to your customer’s business. Thus you are looking at your customer in terms of Economic Value. Clearly the value will depend on the sticker price and volume of products you can sell. It could be that the Economic Value for a customer is $2m or $10m or even $100m. You need to believe there is more work beyond that first deal. Think in terms of market share of that customer’s budget. If a customer spends $5m per year on their mobile strategy perhaps you can secure 20% of that to start with. Thinking big is the key. When IBM look at a customer they think how much of that $2Bn IT spend can we capture?
Believing you can be an essential, trusted adviser to this customer is key. Look at the diagram above and visualize deep and meaningful conversations at various levels of your customer’s organization. The sector could be IT Governance, mCommerce, sheet metal manufacturing – the mindset of the farmer is the same – how can I improve the performance of my customer, how can I help them service their customers better.
The key techniques I’ve found effective at optimizing your farming efforts are as follows:
- Craft an Engagement Strategy that sets out:
- big business drivers dominating your customer
- list key people
- short, medium, long term strategy you will deploy
- the key roles for your staff, sales team members, engineers, C level execs and how you intend to deploy them.
- You need to dig deep into key decision makers and understand their personal priorities relative to the corporate objectives. Connecting with personal objectives in this way will connect you to POs!
- After you have sold at least one deal into the client, it is important to follow up with relentless TLC. How is your customer using your software/service/product? How are they achieving the promised results? What is not working so well?
- Set up user group forums to spread adoption of your products.
- Offer free workshops on site to attract other departments who might be hot prospects. Show them how great business results are being achieved by department X.
- Use your existing sponsor, once results are achieved, to refer up and across. Let her help you map the organization to understand how decisions are made.
- Organize a ‘C’ level event that offers some strategic insight into the problems you are solving. Whether your specialized field is MCommerce, Web Strategies, IT Governance, Security, Logistics, whatever it is – elevate the session beyond products into the bigger picture. Give your customer’s senior team some killer insights that improve their competitiveness and establish you as their trusted adviser of choice.
- Look for opportunities to co-sponsor events.
- Get engaged in your best customers’ blogs. Join the conversation, showing insight into their world.
- Always be looking for great testimonials and case studies that are news worthy.
In the end people buy people. Get invested in your customer’s business.
This is huge! So many companies, large and small look at a “sell it and dump it” mentality. Why? because their comp plans don’t pay for expanding awareness of the product’s utility to the customer. Sales and marketing miss out on enormous opportunities by failing to create a farming strategy.