The splitting headache just wouldn’t quit. I had stopped my three-cups-of-coffee-per-day habit. And, I did it cold turkey. The caffeine withdrawal headache, which had been brutal the day before, persisted into the next day and now its intensity was rising again.
I’d been meaning to kick the caffeine habit for a while.
Despite its unique ability to boost my energy for a day of cold-calling, driving from appointment to appointment and managing dozens of sales cycles at one time, like most of us, I also knew the drawbacks of my caffeine addiction and the benefits that could come from a switch.
Seeing enough reasons to make a change, I made the leap one day to cut out caffeine from my daily routine. I mistakenly gave little thought to how I’d actually make that switch, though. I was too focused on getting to the other side as quickly as possible.
If we aren’t careful, we can cause the same sort of pain for our prospects. We can focus so much on the benefits of the solution we’re bringing them that we forget to help them successfully navigate the transition.
If we fail to account for the switching costs inherent in every situation for our prospects and customers, we will set them (and ourselves) up for a headache much worse than an unbearable caffeine withdrawal.
Here are three ways we can ensure our happy, signing customers remain that way long after the ink is dry:
1. Discuss Your Customer’s Hesitations In Depth
Whatever the project or proposal, there is a status quo today that will be disrupted if everyone agrees to move forward. In sales, we often talk about overcoming objections in order to keep a sales cycle moving, but, if we aren’t careful, we can miss an early opportunity to actually speed up the close and help our customers make the switch when they’re ready.
Hiding behind those hesitations to shake up the status quo are real concerns about the impact on company culture, employee morale, operating costs and day-to-day efficiency.
2. Share How Customers Have Implemented Similar Changes
By discussing your customers’ hesitations thoroughly early in the sales cycle, you enjoy a unique opportunity to discuss how other customers have successfully managed similar change initiatives. This will continue to build trust with your prospective customer and give you valuable information to pass to your implementation team for a successful project roll out.
For instance, many of our customers are taking a closer look at their security policies around their print environment for reasons ranging from GDPR to HIPAA compliance (and everything in between).
As we discuss procedures and software solutions that they can implement to better secure their print environment, there’s a common solution … and a common objection.
There are many ways to help our customers force help their users to print to a secure print queue, holding their print job in memory (in the cloud, on a server or in the memory of a print device) until the users manually releases the print job when they’re standing in front of their printer or copier.
Inevitably the response comes — something like this: “Our users want their print jobs to start printing the moment they hit File-Print. If they have to wait for the print job to start once they’re at the device, they’ll say it’s slowing them down.”
In this recurring conversation, we’ve been explaining to customers how they can phase in a secure print policy by making the secure print release procedure an option, rather than a mandatory requirement.
This allows users the time to see that the workflow change doesn’t typically affect their time-to-print and actually gives them other benefits.
3. Take Time to Document the Change Management Plan
Whether you, as the salesperson, are heavily involved in the implementation process or not, taking the time to document the communication you’ve had regarding the change management plan will only benefit you and your prospect-turned-customer down the road.
If you play the role of project manager with your professional services team or if you fully turn over the project to an implementation group for scoping and delivery, providing your insight into what you’ve discussed with your customer about how to successfully implement the new solution in their specific environment will lead to more long-term customers, not to mention more referrals from those happy customers in the years to come.
As you engage new prospects and plan new projects with your existing customers, remember that the project doesn’t end when they sign the contract.
It is just really beginning, especially for them.
Just like my foray into a caffeine-free existence, where I had to tweak my cold turkey approach for a more phased methodology (I switched to one cup of tea per day, for now), you may need to help you customers effectively plan for the change you’re proposing.
Ease their headaches along the way and help them navigate the pitfalls of implementing change before they ever reach them.
Projects will go more smoothly. Your implementation team will thank you. You’ll have happier internal and external customers.
And, your customers will start to view you as the consultant you’ve always wanted to be in their eyes.
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