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Are You Doing The Work Your Customers Care About?

by David Brock on June 5th, 2017

Anthony Iannarino wrote a post, Why C Level Executives Should Take More Meetings With Sales People.   Usually, Anthony and I are so aligned in our thinking, we tend to complete each other’s sentences (which makes for odd conversations).  While I get Anthony’s point in the post, there’s an unfortunate reality.

Most of the time, sales people waste the executive’s time.  Survey data shows customer complaints:

  • They don’t understand my business.
  • They don’t talk about what I want to talk about.
  • They don’t know their products (even though that’s what they want to talk about).
  • …….., They waste my time.

My personal experience aligns with this.  As a “C-Level” executive (albeit for a very small company), I get dozens of calls a week.  When I can, I answer every one, unfortunately, this is what happens:

“Can I speak to the person responsible for [Insert whatever you want] decisions?”  They are just calling a list, they have no idea where they are calling other than a number on their call list.  What value are they going to create for me.

I get a lot calling for me directly.  Recently, I’ve gotten inundated with follow up from exhibitors at a conference I attended ( I was actually a speaker–in and out pretty quickly).  These calls begin with, “I’d like to follow up with your visit to us at XYZ conference…”  Well, I may have walked by their booth.  I actually didn’t stop by to visit any.

I respond, “I was just there as a speaker, I didn’t visit your booth.”  They say, “Well, we think your company might get a lot of value from our product…”  My response is, “Do you know what my company does?  Do you know what I do?”  Ironically, much of the them of this conference was “customer intelligence.”  You can guess what their responses are.

Like many of you, I download lots of white papers.  Yes, I get the calls within a minute or so.  No one ever asks me about the white paper–inevitably, I haven’t had a chance to read it in the seconds since the download, or why I was interested in it.  Most of the time, “I’d like to tell you about our company…”

Reflecting back on the dozens of calls I’ve answered in the past 30 days, none of them have talked about anything I’ve been interested in. None of them really knew about me or my company or what I might be interested in.

Anthony’s right, C-Level execs, or any customer for that matter, are hungry to learn and improve.  They want new perspectives, they want different points of view (OK, not all of them), they want to learn.

But why don’t they take sales people’s calls?

It really is our fault.  1000’s of blog posts, hundreds of books, every keynote speaker, every training program tell us what customers are interested in and how to get them to respond.

But why do we so consistently fail to do this?  Why do we ignore what customers are telling us, what research supports?

Well, it takes work…..

We have to learn who our target customers are and how we help them achieve their goals and dreams.  We have to engage them with insight, helping them learn, helping them discover.  But all the data shows that when we do this, customers welcome us.

Ironically, not doing this takes work as well.  We make dozens of calls, send hundreds to thousands of emails.  We invest hours of our time doing the wrong work, doing the things that customers have told us they don’t care about.

Imagine what would happen if you started changing how you work?  Imagine if you focused your work on what customers care about, what change might that drive?

 

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2 Comments
  1. David, great article. interesting that you have taken dozens of sales calls. I believe the majority of people (including me) don’t take vendor calls, or for that matter, calls from anyone we don’t recognize.. But your points are well taken and I think the process for many B2B companies has to shift from the quantity model (calling everyone with basically the same pitch) to the quality model (using a bit of research to customize the conversation). This is a more effective and satisfying approach for both the caller and prospect.

    Chris

    • Great observations Chris. It’s funny how the “numbers you need” always work in your favor if you opt for quality first. If you make the right calls, they produce greater results than making 100’s of the wrong calls.

      The reason I pick up on sales calls, since it’s my business as a consultant in sales, I always like to see how people are executing it. Most of the time, I’m disappointed. I suppose the silver lining is that foreshadows full employment for people like me 😉

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