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Q. Dave, on several occasions you have said that our customers want us to understand their business. How do we do that when we call on lots of different types of businesses? How do we become experts in everything?

Copyright MMXI, by Dave Kahle

A.  Unless you are a real genius, you don’t.  Rather, you do two things:

1.  You prioritize your prospects and customers, focusing your best efforts and your greatest investment of sales time on a smaller number of customers whom you decide are the highest potential customers.  So, you decide that while you cannot become experts in every customer, you can become an expert in a few.  This requires you to “demote” some customers so that you can “promote” others.  Choose those others well. 

If you are going to do this well, it is a whole lot more complex than it sounds.  You may want to read chapter six of my book, Ten Secrets of Time Management for Salespeople.  It explains in detail the concepts, processes and tools necessary to make cold-blooded business decisions about in which customers you should invest your valuable time.

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2.  Then, decide that while you may not be able to become an expert in everyone’s business, you can still, in the time that you do have, learn more about each customer’s business.  There is a whole lot of room between being ignorant of their business and being an expert in it.  Decide to move slowly and inexorably toward the “expert” end of the spectrum. 

That means that you decide to become more skilled at the processes and skills necessary to understand your customer better each and every time you meet with him/her.  Regardless of what type of business on which you are calling, you can still drill deeper in that particular sales call, even if it is only one call a year.  To do this, you focus on improving your observing, asking and listening skills.

So, you focus more precisely on a smaller number of high potential customers, and then you focus on using the time that you have to more completely understanding every customer.

You are in it for the long run.  There are very few short term solutions in sales.  Invest in the right customers, and in doing the right things with every customer, and you’ll see your performance improve.

Hope this helps.  Good luck.

Dave Kahle has trained tens of thousands of B2B salespeople, sales managers and business owners to be more effective in the 21st Century economy. He's authored nine books, and presented in 47 states and seven countries. To access Dave's training, insights and tools online, visit The Sales Resource Center. Visit www.davekahle.com to check out a seminar near you.

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