How do you get in? Watch for changes

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Q. I have a large account in my territory that is intensely loyal to a competitor of mine. They'll see me, but I never get any business. Do you have any advice on getting in?
A. Are you kidding me? This large account that is using a competitor is seeing you? You're already in! How many other sales representatives are circling this account like buzzards, hoping that one day this account will see them? Just the fact that this customer talks to you and, hopefully, listens to your sales pitch occasionally means that you already have a foot in the door.
When I am told by a hapless sales representative that an account is loyal to their vendor and just won't switch, I ask the following questions: Have you ever lost a loyal account that you have had for years? Have you ever seen a customer that was loyal to one company switch to a competitor? Do you think that every account uses the same vendor from the day they open their doors until they retire and are no longer in business?
The answers to these questions make a strong point. It is rare for accounts to stay with the same company for eternity; everyone switches vendors; something happens:
- There are mergers or acquisitions;
- Your competitor loses their sales rep;
- The decision-maker leaves account and a new decision-maker enters equation;
- Service issues arise; or
- Personality conflicts arise.
Obviously, there are ample opportunities to obtain this so-called unobtainable business. It is your role as the sales professional to establish rapport with the account and do whatever it takes to keep your foot in the door. When the day comes for the customer to consider making a change, you should be their obvious choice.

Joe Sansone is CEO of TMC Orthopedic. Reach him at 713-669-1800 or