Your Answer To This Question Is Critical

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Here’s the scene. It happens hundreds of times each week in your market. And, in every market.

An account executive meets a client for the first time. Early in the meeting, often in the first minute or so, the client asks a really common question: “What have you got for me?” 

How do your AE’s answer that question? I believe the way they respond can tell you everything about whether you have a new business process that is product-focused or customer-focused.

Clients ask the “what have you got” question of account executives because they know that 90% of the salespeople will answer with some package. “I came in today because I thought you’d be perfect for ___________.”

So, if I’m a client and I know why the salesperson is there, I can shorten the process by hearing their “pitch” quickly and deciding if it makes sense. But here’s what you need to know. If your AE’s respond to that question with their package of the week, your sales process is product-focused, not customer-focused. Your team members, despite all you have done, will be seen as peddlers in your market.

Being a peddler in this mega-competitive marketplace is going to be more and more difficult to sustain. Even if this approach works from time to time, it requires new packages and more calls every week in order to have even a little success. Plus, the nature of product-focused selling is that you end up with a ton of “one and done” relationships instead of long-term clients, and long-term clients should be the real goal of your new business process.

What should your AE’s say when the client asks, “What have you got for me?” Their answer should be, “I’ve got nothing.” Train them to go on to say, “We’ve produced amazing results for lots and lots of businesses in this area, but I don’t know anything about you or your business, so I’d like to learn about your business to see if it makes sense to work together at some point down the road.”

There are fundamental differences between a sales rep who’s customer-focused and a rep who’s product-focused.

  • The product-focused rep thinks short-term. They’re focused on making a sale.
  • The customer-focused rep thinks long-term. Their focus is on the account. They know that if it’s good for the client it will ultimately be good for them.

The biggest difference between the product peddler and the customer-focused seller is in their commitment to the diagnosis (CNA) portion of the sales process. Peddlers spend very little time in front of the client in diagnosis and most of that time in pitching. The customer-focused rep is the opposite. A massive percentage of their time initially is spent doing diagnosis. After diagnosis, customer-focused sellers bring back solutions for the client’s needs NOT a package. So, they close at a higher percentage for bigger dollars. That reduces churn and increases the chance that the account will turn into a long-term customer. That’s why this is so important.

In our company, we’ll make over 4000 sales calls this year. We’ll close north of $40M in digital and TV revenue. At the core of our selling DNA is a belief that being product-focused in the new TV business is a prescription for long-term challenge. That’s the gentlest way I can put it. Yet, it seems to me that as we’ve added more and more options for clients, our industry is actually falling deeper and deeper into the peddler mentality. That scares the crap out of me. Yes, we need to close new business, but what we really need is to create new long-term clients, not “one and done” revenue. Not only are both objectives possible, but they’re required for the long-term health of our business.

How are your teams doing? I think you can easily find the answer to that by determining how they answer the new prospect question, “What have you got for me?”


Have a Group, Corporate, General Manager or Sales Manager meeting in your future? Why not have Jim Doyle speak at your meeting about how to turn your sales staff into a SALES FORCE? We promise powerful, thought-provoking content customized to your company’s needs. Contact Jim Doyle at jda@jimdoyle.com or call 941-926-SELL