How well-developed is your ability to see yourself from the outside, looking back inward? That’s the perspective your customers have of you and your company.
That’s the YOU that your customers are buying into.
Otherwise, your concept of business development and sales is based on your imagination: it’s all inside your head. You are looking at the situation from your own perspective.
You sold yourself on you. However, your customers and prospects may have an entirely different perspective from yours.
Business development and selling align your bias towards inside-out perception with your ability to:
- See yourself with the eyes of your customers
- Hear yourself with the ears of your customers
- Communicate and collaborate using the language, mindset and prioritization of your customers
Are you able to assume the perspective of your customers, while maintaining the perspective of all other stakeholders seated around the business table?
- That capability means you see yourself from the outside looking inward. You take that 10,000 foot eagle’s eye view of that problem, business case, those decision makers.
- That capability allows you to assess the pattern of relationships, agendas, solutions, throughput and outcomes relative to one another.
- That capability permits you to process all the criteria your customers and prospects factor into their buying decisions.
Two engineers engaged me to create a strategy for their new business. They were absolutely convinced they would win business. Everyone knew and liked them. They would easily win contracts simply by calling on people they already knew!
There already were many engineering firms in their space. These engineers equated the number of engineering firms as the green light for the successful addition of their new enterprise.
Based on this assumption, they had fast-forwarded and focused on where to rent office space, how to furnish it, what hardware and software to purchase, and what their website and business cards would look like. They were legends in their own minds. Ouch!
I suggested that they re-evaluate their quantitative analysis. Focus, instead, on the number of successful, viable engineering firms which had been in business for more than three years: their competitors. Their competitors would not be welcoming them into the marketplace with open arms.
These entrepreneurs needed to step outside and look back inward at themselves. They would be the newest entry into a competitive marketplace. They would be fighting to unseat incumbents who had worked hard and long to win and retain customers.
What was their strategy for winning their first customers, and the next 25 customers?
[No need to tell you that their response to my questions was: dead silence.]
No matter how passionate or enthusiastic you are about your startup or selling efforts, the only person who may be excited about you may be you. The best failure mode effects analysis you can run is to constantly determine your perspective: inside-out or outside-in?
What perspective will you take?
Babette N. Ten Haken, is President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC . 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.