Innovation Junkies Podcast

Three Steps to Improve Client Engagement

The Jeffs talk about the client engagement process and how to refine it in your business. They discuss maximizing lifetime value and enhancing the customer journey, the importance of developing a documented engagement process, & three steps you can do to improve client engagement with your business.

Jeff Standridge (Intro):
Are you ready to change the trajectory of your business and see massive improvements? Each week, we’ll share strategies and practices to generate sustained results and long-lasting success in your organization. Welcome to the Innovation Junkies Podcast.

Jeff Standridge:
Hey guys, welcome to another episode of the Innovation Junkies Podcast. I’m Jeff Standridge.

Jeff Amerine:
And this is Jeff Amerine. Glad to be back.

Jeff Standridge:
It is good to be back. Let’s hop in today, Jeff. We’re talking about the client engagement process. What do you know about that and what do you want to share?

Jeff Amerine:
Well, the one thing I’d say is, it’s difficult to get clients in the beginning, right? That sales process is the most expensive part of your customer acquisition. Once you have them, it’s super important, if you want to maximize lifetime value, to have a good client engagement process, that will make sure that customer journey is fantastic all the way along. So, why don’t you talk about some of the specific points I know you’ve been a sales and business development professional for a lot of your career. What have you seen?

Jeff Standridge:
Yeah, we’re going to talk about three steps to ensure that your client engagements run smoothly. The first one is to actually have a client engagement process, to develop, test, retest, and refine your client engagement process so that it becomes an actual proven process. I can’t tell you the number of organizations that I’ve come across over the years who leave it up to their salesperson to define what their client engagement process is, or they leave it up to their sales and service team collectively to define it. And, what is it Peter Drucker said, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure”, I believe it was. And really knowing what that proven process is, developing it, and refining it over time is absolutely critical to removing variation from one client engagement to the other.

Jeff Amerine:
It certainly works out better than what we call the Wright Brothers’ Process, which is just winging it when you don’t have a good process.

Jeff Standridge:
That’s right. They did just wing it. And it ended up in an entire industry.

Jeff Amerine:
Exactly.

Jeff Standridge:
It worked out better for other people than it did for them, right? So-

Jeff Amerine:
Absolutely. That’s right.

Jeff Standridge:
Yeah. So you develop, test, refine and create this proven process. Then you actually name it and visually illustrate it. So, there’s nothing better to train new salespeople into your client engagement process than to actually have it named and visually illustrated again so that you remove that variation.

Jeff Amerine:
You’re absolutely right. And there’s really some pretty good books to read on that. Aaron Ross has written a book called “Predictable Revenue” where he talks about that predictable process of using sales development reps who will line up leads and have multiple ways of contacting prospects and qualifying prospects. And then you’ll have closers or business development leads that will actually be there to do demos and close the deal, But all that only works if you’ve got good tools and documented processes.

Jeff Standridge:
Another good rationale for having a visually documented process. We’ve talked about onboarding new sales reps and bringing people into the organization, measuring every step of the process so that you reduce variation and improve quality and client experience but another good reason to have it named and visually illustrated is because you can begin to condition your customers and your prospects and manage their expectations as to what’s going to happen during the client engagement. So that they’re not left wondering. And so, having that named and visually illustrated process does that for them as well.

Jeff Amerine:
Well, it’s the biggest part of why client engagements fail or why deals fail, or why customers walk away is  you haven’t adequately set expectations, and they’re not sure what’s going to happen next. Maybe you’re not adequately or regularly communicating with them. So, having the understood process that’s been communicated to the client as well is super helpful.

Jeff Standridge:
Absolutely. And then finally, it’s around making it part of your daily processes throughout the organization. So building a sales culture in the organization and helping all of your employees understand that… And we’ll talk about this in a future episode that nothing happens until you sell something. So, everyone in the organization needs to understand the client engagement process, the selling process, the closing process, and how we actually deliver value to our clients.

Jeff Amerine:
Critically important that businesses, even if they’re technically best with superior products and services, if they’re not good in client engagement, if they don’t have a repeatable process, they have a difficult time actually achieving the results that they need to achieve in order to be viable. That’s absolutely true.

Jeff Standridge:
So, we develop, test, and refine our client engagement process until we have an actual proven process. We name it and visually illustrate it. And we use it not only for onboarding our salespeople but also for onboarding and setting and managing expectations with our prospects and clients. But then we make it part of our daily process in building a sales culture. We use it on a daily basis with all of the employees in our organization and make sure everyone understands where the touch points are. So, those are the top three steps to ensure that your client engagements run smoothly. And, maybe have a fourth one, maybe a bonus I want to throw out here. And that’s this concept of, if you know what each stage is in your client engagement, then you can measure the length of time that it takes. And back to Aaron Ross’s “Predictable Revenue”, you can measure and manage each phase and figure out where you need to get better to shorten the sales cycle, but also to improve the quality of that particular phase as well.

Jeff Amerine:
For sure, then that ground-up understanding of how the process works and what to expect that you can iterate as time goes on based on your learning on a particular vertical you’re selling into that gives you the ability to also create a more predictable forecast. Because again, whether you’re creating a forecast that’s going to be for a board of directors and existing enterprise or senior management, or whether you’re creating a forecast as a new venture, having some degree of predictability and good assumptions in understanding sales cycle and sales methods is hugely valuable. Otherwise, it’s truly just an exercise in fiction and a lot of guessing.

Jeff Standridge:
That’s right. Anything else you would say about client engagement processes?

Jeff Amerine:
I said an important thing that we didn’t talk a lot about that complements this, is making sure you’ve got the right people in the right seats and having sales professionals with the right business acumen and the right temperament and the right approach. And the level of discipline you need is the other piece that complements a really good client engagement process. You’ve got to have people that understand how to do this well, and it tends to be one of the most difficult positions to fill in any business.

Jeff Standridge:
I’m sure, one of the most difficult and one of the most critical.

Jeff Amerine:
Absolutely right. No question about it.

Jeff Standridge:
All right. Thank you, Jeff. This has been another episode of the Innovation Junkies Podcast. Thank you for joining.

Jeff Amerine:
See you next time.

Jeff Amerine (Outro):
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