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For Current

Providers Only

“My job is to proactively control the experiences of my

clients, making their future predictable.”

This statement is what I have asked more than 3,000

salespeople to write down in the past 18 months. Think

about the opposite of that statement, and you will figure out

what most providers are doing for even their best clients:

“My job is to be reactive and to respond to my clients’ needs

when they need my help, making their future questionable,

but okay.”

If you are the incumbent rep, the current provider,

what can you do to improve your situation? How can you

Wedge-proof your accounts from your competitors?

It begins with what we covered in Chapter 5 on the

VISION BOX. To Wedge-proof your accounts, you first have

to find out what your clients want. If I went to your very

best accounts in an effort to do marketing research, and if I

asked them what their service/product supplier (you) was

going to do for them over the next 12, 24, or 36 months,

what would they say? The probability is very high they

would say that you are there for them when they need you,

that you call on them regularly, and that you do a good job.

I have no doubt that you have a very good relationship,

which keeps you in good stead. But if one of the people I’ve

trained to use The Wedge were to go after your account,

how secure would it be? To a great degree you are very fortunate

in that most of your competitors think that their service is good enough. Unfortunately for their clients,

your competitors’ definition of good service is mostly reactive

service. Although I can’t say with confidence that you

or anyone else in particular is vulnerable to outside competition,

I can say that many of the people I have trained in

The Wedge have been remarkably successful in driving a

wedge between their competition and their prospect by using

their proactive services to get buyers to see they are really

being underserved.

So what’s the answer? If I were you, I’d have a meeting

with some of the other salespeople with whom I work.

I’d invite them to sit with me and do a brainstorming session.

We’d play the buyer game. As buyers of your product/

service, we would spend at least 30 minutes thinking

of all the things we don’t like about doing business with

you, your firm, and your industry. We’d make a list of all

the things that are difficult to understand, to predict, and

therefore to control.

Let me give you an example. If I were selling health

benefits to human resources (HR) directors, I’d put myself

in their shoes and do the exercise. Chances are that HR directors

if they really let go would have a whole list of items

that they don’t like because they don’t understand them

and therefore can’t control them. Here’s a short list:

How do I remain in government compliance?

How does my pricing compare with that of my


What can I do when ID cards are messed up and an

employee can’t immediately get his or her

prescription filled? The list could go on, and you could do the same thing

with your own industry. Just list all the items that if you

were a client, you’d dislike. Once you’ve done that, then

you can start going through the list, deciding which items

you can do something about to help control your clients’

experiences and make their future more predictable. Your

goal in doing this is to identify areas of underservice as well

as come up with the proactive services that you can use to

Wedge-proof your clients, preventing your competitors

from breaking them away from you.

In summary, here are three distinct things that you can

do to prevent a seller from using The Wedge against you:

First, you can keep building the relationship. You will

want all the relationship power you can get in order to roll

your competitors when they come after your business.

Second, you can meet with your clients and do a VISION

BOX with them. Find out exactly how they want to be

served, and then put a written proactive services time line

in place. Remember, your job is to proactively control your

clients’ experiences, making their future more predictable.

Last and by no means least, you can have a brainstorming

session of the type I described. Be the client.

Think about what you would want based on what you don’t

understand and can’t control. This will be the hardest

thing to do of the three things I’ve suggested. Many people

can’t get out of their own way and open up their thoughts.

But if you can, you will be light-years ahead of your competition,

and you will be far less vulnerable to getting fired.