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Prospecting For Golden Clients

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Do you have a clear image and understanding of your perfect client?  Authors often mention about writing for their avatar.  This is their imaginary reader.  They have a clear picture of whom they are writing for.  They know their reader’s hopes, fears, aspirations, behaviors, goals and idiosyncrasies. 

In sales, prospecting to find your Golden Client is a bit like discovering your life partner.  We have to go out and meet a lot of potential partners, until we find the person who just clicks with us.  We find we get along very well together – we are simpatico, share common interests, have great communication and are on the same wavelength.

Clients are our partners too.  Partners in the sense that we are looking for a long- term relationship.  Our chief objective is to make re-sales.  Not to make a "sale", but to generate consistent orders year after year.  This can only occur when the mutual trust has been built. 

If we have distilled what our perfect client looks like, then we have a much better chance of finding such a buyer.  Now our perfect buyer may need to grow into that category.  It is rare to find someone who is perfect from the outset.  The "test and see" strategy in Japan almost ensures that the first orders and interactions will be limited, as the buyer tests us out, to see if we are reliable. 

This is done for self-protection in business.  The distribution system in Japan is often convoluted and there are many outstretched hands involved.  This means there are also many interlocking relationships, constructed on years of obligations and counter obligations.

As a new supplier, we are caught up in this web of mutual responsibility.  Failure in any one part of the system jeopardises the livelihood of everyone in the food chain and so people take this relationship building very seriously.  Once burnt they are very shy to try again, so we have one shot to make a new client and we had better not blow it.

So our perfect client may actually have to grow in scale to become our perfect client over time.  In the beginning, we may only see small orders which based on satisfactory performance by us, will be able to grow in importance.  This is the theory anyway.

Now this gradual scale increase idea raises a problem.  Which are nascent perfect clients and which are buyers just pushing hard for all they can get from us?  At the start this is sometimes hard to determine.  As sellers, we tend toward being especially accommodating in the beginning, because we want to grow the business with this new client.  This makes perfect sense, but we should always have our BATNA at the ready, to wield whenever needed.

Our BATNA is our "best alternative to a negotiated agreement".  This is our walk away position.  If we get pushed unreasonably hard on price, we need to be thinking where is the point where this new client is less than perfect.   In fact are they meant to become a non-client, because they are too demanding, too cheap and too problematic?

Sometimes the buyer tendency is to play the "new client" card as hard a possible. They want to force concessions. Then despite all the rhetoric and agreement about this being  a one-off, once in  lifetime special introductory arrangement, they then set that number as the new low bar.  Against this standard all further future discounts are measured and negotiated.  This is not a partnership.

 

We need to have a clear view of who we want to partner with and make sure that there is that level of compatibility. There need to be win-win outcomes aplenty.  We can have the correct approach to clients but not all clients reciprocate.  Desperation drives bad decisions and bad partnerships.  Life is short.  So it is better to take our time and make sure this client is someone we want to be dealing with for a long time.

 

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