How To Sell To Clients in Disrupted Markets

BY Kathy Crosett
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In a fast-​moving market, the best way to retain and sell more to existing clients is to make them an unbeatable offer. If you’re selling a product or service that’s being disrupted by a competitor with new technology, don’t start thinking all is lost. Instead, start talking to your clients.

That’s the advice of Jim Schleckser in a recent Inc. column as he encourages readers to make offers that clients can’t refuse – Godfather style. You don’t need to resort to violence, but you do need to take action that gets attention.

The point is you often don’t know what action to take until you meet with clients. All of your clients have been relying on your product or service for a period of time, so they see value in what you’ve been selling them. With a competitor breathing down your back, you need to assure customers that you’re willing and able to get them what they need.

Each client may have unique demands. One client might want a deep discount. Another client might want access to free training. Still another may be interested in new features the competitor doesn’t have. Listen closely to what clients tell you and relay the information to senior management.

Hopefully, they will commit to developing a new product or service that is better than what the competitor offers. That development will buy you some time. If your clients worry they might be losing ground while they wait for your new product, appeal to them by offering to include their feature requests in a new release. You can also offer them the opportunity to act as beta clients.

You should be prepared to negotiate in these situations. Your clients may understand the marketplace and will try to use the situation to their advantage. In those cases, your first offer may not go over well. Don’t give up. Listen to what they tell you and come back with a new offer.

Sooner or later, you’ll find a way to save the contract. It’s worth your time and energy. We all know it costs more to attract a new customer than it does to retain an existing one.