Developing the ability to put yourself in your customers’ shoes first makes or breaks sales success and business relationships.
Whether you are involved in business development (aka “sales”) or technical development (aka “engineering / IT”) you need to revisit where the customer fits into your equation. I’m not the first, nor will I be the last, to address this situation. And it’s more important as we crawl out of recession into “where the economy is going.” Because we are the ones impacting that direction. A sobering thought.
Traditionally, business development continues to be all about directing the customer / prospect towards the solution that your company provides. As though that’s the only solution that’s right for them.
As though that’s the only thing they have on their minds. I don’t think so.
Traditionally, engineering / IT has focused on emphasizing why their solution offers superiority, flexibility and all answers to all questions compared to what currently is in place or what the competition has to offer.
As though the customer is in search of the “next greatest thing.”
When’s the last time you made a decision to upgrade your home internet service? Did you upgrade all of your peripherals at the same time? Did you assess the impact the upgrade would have on all the other gadgets you currently do or don’t have in place at home for hi-def, ISP, communications? Did you do a fair amount of thinking prior to making the purchase, in terms of the economic impact the decision to purchase this solution might have on the State Of Your Home Electronics situation? Or did you run out and blindly purchase the next greatest thing because everyone else had it, or you had to keep up technically?
When’s the last time you made a decision to purchase a new car or truck? And finance it? Based on your current credit score, the lending environment and your perception of your job security?
OK, now let’s get back to business development. And please put yourself in your customers’ and prospects’ shoes.
They are the same shoes you wear. Every day. They have a lot more on their minds than what you are selling or the services you offer. They have to factor in a lot of stuff that’s happening behind the scenes in order for them to make a decision to solve their problems and perhaps purchase a solution.
If you are not factoring in the behind-the-scenes stuff into your business development strategy, and “simply” trying to justify why your solution fits their needs, you need to go back to the drawing board. You can identify “needs” all day, and drag the customer over the coals to emphasize how great their need is. But like most individuals, they have made do with and will continue to make do with, the status-quo. Because it’s a known entity and comfortable. Because they may have internal resources committed to making the status-quo continue to work. Not because your solution doesn’t really offer them what they need. It probably does.
There are a lot of behind-the-scenes factors impacting decision making on investing in solutions. By taking into account these factors during your initial business and technical development discussions, you may shorten your sales cycle. And yet this has nothing to do with “selling” or with product or service placement.
It starts by putting yourself in your customers’ shoes. First.
Wearing your customers’ shoes. Hmm. How comfortable are you with this strategy?
Babette Ten Haken is a catalyst, corporate strategist and facilitator. She writes, speaks, consults and coaches about how cross-functional team collaboration revolutionizes the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) value chain for customer loyalty, customer success and customer retention. Her One Millimeter Mindset™ programs draw from her background as a scientist, sales professional, enterprise-level facilitator, Six Sigma Green Belt and certified DFSS Voice of the Customer practitioner. Babette’s playbook of technical / non-technical collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.
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