Rushing the close of a sale and still getting nowhere? Instead of throwing more resources and one more demo at your customers to “seal the deal”, consider whether you have done your business anthropology about your target customer.
Business anthropology is not advanced level customer discovery. Customer discovery focuses on why your product or engineering solution is optimal for your customers. Chances are you just are selling yourself on your solution, instead of your customer.
Business anthropology allows you to determine why your optimal solution isn’t perceived by your customer as optimal at all. Their perception about your solution is impacted by corporate culture and context.
How many of you pay attention to this critical aspect of every business transaction?
More often than not you are too busy selling and engineering. You fail to unearth the small causes creating those large obstacles which always seem to crop up once the deal is on the table.
Business anthropology unearths potential roadblocks, attitudes, biases and baggage that impede forward progress in transacting business. While hindsight is always 20-20, why not be proactive and anticipatory of what lies ahead in your business development and selling processes?
Business anthropology turns the entire business development process into something other than sales-as-usual. This process doesn’t involve the usual selling suspects either. Your best business anthropologists are those resources inside your own organization which are the most like their peers inside your customers’ cultures.
Your best business anthropologists are non-traditional sellers within your own organization. Who are they?
Non-traditional sellers are comfortable having peer discussions, critical aspects of business anthropology, within your customers’ organizations. They are speaking to the folks they do business with each day.
There are fewer barriers of entry involved in having those peer discussions. You are asking non-traditional sellers to approach their peers, not the VP of Sales. Their peers within your customers’ organizations feel marginalized and out of the big-picture loop anyway. They are anxious for a conversation. They usually have a lot to say.
Often, it’s that casual comment which creates your competitive advantage. Your loading dock guy speaks with their loading dock guy and unearths how many shipments arrive late, damaged, or have to be returned due to quality issues. Your receptionist (who also serves a customer service function within your organization) speaks with their customer service folks and uncovers that your competitors don’t make it very easy to do business with them once that contract is signed.
Creating a business anthropology team moves your non-traditional sellers outside their biases. Goodness, they don’t want to sell! That isn’t part of their job description.
Business anthropology, however, involves digging. Everyone likes to dig in the dirt, don’t they?
Business anthropology is the basis of stealth competitive intelligence. Business anthropology identifies critical points of entry into being accepted in your customers’ organizations.
Who might you enlist, today, to become part of your business anthropology team?
Babette N. Ten Haken, is President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC and author of its award-winning blog. She catalyzes business transition, startup growth, and professional development for non-traditional sellers, engineers, manufacturers, and technical startups. Her book on collaboration strategies, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com.