How relevant are you and what you have to say to customers and funders? Have you ever listened to yourself speak with your prospects and customers? If you’ve gone through any type of sales training, the goal of your discussion usually is finding out what your prospective customer “needs”. Then it’s supposed to be a straight-line shot to showing them why your product or technology is the only solution.
That’s the spiel your current and prospective customers are expecting to hear.
If you are an engineer, and your current and prospective customers call you directly (trying to avoid this commoditized sales scenario), listen to yourself as well. If you’re an engineer, the customer has you from “hello”. You immediately respond by problem solving and offering up solutions. Even if the person on the other end of the phone or computer is shopping your solution – and your willingness to give it up. Even if this individual has bigger fish to fry than the project they are using to vet you, and your company.
So what if you solved their problem in 10 seconds flat? Sort of like engineering roping and hog tying.
Your customers and prospects want a dialogue. A conversation. It isn’t a contest to see how many solutions or suggestions you can come up with. Or how clever you can be responding to questions they throw at you.
Why are you wasting their hard-to-get time?
The best conversations you can have with customers are those conversations even they didn’t know they wanted to have with you. The relevant conversations that involve industry and marketplace dynamics, economies of scale and nations, the context in which they are (trying) to make a decision, and the chaos of their business model.
Bet they didn’t teach you how to have those discussions in business school, sales training or engineering school.
These are the relevant conversations that stick in customers’ minds long after they have them with you. Because they know you took the time to build up your knowledge base beyond the status-quo of selling your solution. Because they appreciate the breadth and depth of your vision. Because they understand how your perspective helps them run their businesses. Because they are grateful for you taking the time to speak with them.
Relevance could be the definition of “value” that everyone’s been throwing around lately. And value’s just a noun in need of a descriptor.
I like the sound of that.
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo and business- and revenue-producing collaboration and communication tools to small and mid-sized businesses and startups. Download her newest White Paper at her Free Resources Page. She was named one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers 2013. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? focuses on technical / non-technical collaboration strategies and tools.