You spend a lot of time and money and years honing your skills, whether they are technical or business oriented, whether you are a worker-bee or the CEO of one of many of today’s startups. You’ve got certificates, diplomas, awards and a significant investment in continuously growing and improving your expertise. You attend sales schools, social media summits, professional association conferences. You are a speaker, mentor, advisor.
You’ve got expertise, hands down. You’ve got the credentials, hands down. You’ve got the killer resume and experience, hands down.
That makes you the expert. Right?
Not so fast there…
No one doubts that you have subject-matter expertise. When it comes down to convincing a room full of venture capital and angel investors to do business with you, or a prospect to sign a contract for your products, platforms, and services, it’s a different playing field, isn’t it?
While you may be an expert on your side of the table, your customers remain experts in their own domains, hands down. Even when you think they don’t know squat (which may be true). Your customers remain on the customer side of the table, and are their own domain experts.
No one will ever really understand why customers make decisions the way they do unless they are the customer. Period.
You can understand their business, industry, mindset, financials, operations, and markets far better than they, themselves, understand them. That’s some valuable information you provide to them.
Yet in spite of all of your efforts to demonstrate your value, business and technical acumen, your customers tend to “do their own thing.”
Because their area of subject-matter expertise (themselves, their business and personal universes) is far greater than the focus of your own expertise on getting them to do business with you.
Now that’s a real conundrum.
Customers will do the most illogical things when we’ve engaged them in what we perceive to be a straight-line, prescriptive path towards closing the sale after validating the method and dealing with objections. Weren’t we led to believe that if we checked all of our due diligence off the list that our customers would be putty in our hands, breaking down the doors to sign contracts to do business with us?
We will never know our customers better than they know themselves. Stop kidding yourselves. Your customers are the real experts in the business development equation.
If you have that product, service or platform, that App, that technology, that store, that was designed with the end user in mind – but not in conjunction with the end user – don’t be surprised if your designers left out a few critical aspects. You know, the ones that are critical to your customers but were deemed minor by the folks designing, implementing, selling and marketing to the customer.
Your folks left this stuff out of the final deliverable because it wasn’t perceived (by your folks) as being of any great consequence. After all, your folks have the credentials, experience, killer resume, all that expertise. Hands down. Don’t they? The customer is not going to put anything past them.
Um… er… as a matter of fact, that’s exactly what the customer is going to do. Every time.
Until you get it right.
The ultimate expert is your Customer.
Start treating them with the respect they deserve in your business development equation.
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. 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.