We’re doing some renovations in our home. These include changes in the Master Bedroom and Master Bath. As A result, my wife and I have temporarily moved to a guest room and are having to use a guest bath. It’s been interesting–and a little embarrassing — at least thinking of what we’ve put past guests through.
There wasn’t anything glaringly bad about the guest bedroom and baths, just a whole series of little annoyances—bad lighting in one room, inconvenient switches and outlets in another, the bed was a little soft in another. In the shower, something was up with the faucet. It was easy to get extremely hot or cold water, to get something in between, you couldn’t move the faucet handle more than a quarter of an inch.
A couple of weeks living where we put guests was eye opening! Without the renovation, we never would have discovered these annoyances. We never would have had reason to stay in any of the guest rooms, so we would have continued to be embarrassed by these little annoyances (and, at least so far, our guests have been far too polite to mention anything.)
Too often, we subject our prospects and customers to similar things. We never experience what we put them through. Whether it’s our marketing campaigns, the way we sell, or the experience we create in doing business with us. We seldom actually experience what we inflict on our prospects and customers.
Generally, we design our demand gen, marketing, sales and customer experience approaches based on the most efficient and effective ways for us to work, forgetting what the customer experiences in the process. Inadvertently, rather than really creating great customer experiences, we are doing the opposite.
As much as you can, put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Visit your company’s website, looking at it as a prospect might. Sign up for your own newsletter, or white papers to see what happens in the process. Call your customer service desk with a problem, see how it’s handled. Talk to your customers, get their feedback on every interaction they have with you.
Use these opportunities to learn what you are taking your customer through, use them to learn how you might create the customer experiences you intend to create.
There was an interesting comment in one of my latest rants, “God, Save Me From Clueless LinkedIn Prospecting.” The reader said, “At least he made an impression you will never forget.”
He’s absolutely right!
Every prospecting call or email, every interaction we have with a customer, everything we do makes an impression. The issue is, is it the impression we intended or want?
Too often, we think we can disregard sloppiness or a poorly executed program. We skate through meetings being poorly prepared, thinking we can make it up in the next meeting. We are late to an appointment. We don’t deliver on a commitment, but think an apology suffices.
Do you want to be known as the person that’s always on time or always late?
Do you want to be known as the person that is always prepared and makes sure everyone else is prepared, as well? Or is “winging it” your preferred behavior?
Do you want to be known as the person that uses everyone’s time well or one that wastes it?
Do you want to be known as the person who brings new ideas and insights, or as the person who eagerly responds to questions, but can’t share new ideas?
Do you want to be known as the person that can help others achieve their goals or are solely focused on your own success?
Do you want to be the first person someone calls when they need help, or desperately trying to get the attention of people to busy to talk to you?
Do you want to be the person others can count on, or the person that doesn’t meet commitments?
Do you want to be……….
We choose what we want to be and the impressions we leave with everything we do every day.
We create impressions with every interaction, every day. We do this with our colleagues, our customers, our prospects, and people we don’t even know.
The key issue, is are you creating the impression you intend?
Long time readers will be surprised. I’ve raged against the posts predicting the death of sales. I’ve shifted my views, we are killing ourselves!
The issue isn’t whether our customers no longer need sales people. They are hungry for information, more importantly they are starved for help! Our customers’ worlds are increasingly complex. They are overworked and overwhelmed. They face challenges they’ve never encountered before. Many don’t even recognize they could be doing better or that they are missing opportunities. They want to learn and improve. They want our help!
Sales people should be filling that important role as change agents. We need to be helping our customers think about their businesses differently. We need to help customer understand and solve problems/address opportunities to more effectively achieve their goals. We need to understand them and their businesses and what’s most important to them. We need to be creating value in every interaction with customers.
None of this is new, sales has always been about the customer and helping them achieve their goals. The history of great sales literature has reiterated this for decades! Drucker, Hanan, Rackham, Miller/Heiman, and 1000’s of others talk about the same things. Whether you believe in Consultative, Customer Focused, Solution, CustomerCentric, Value Based, Insight Driven, Challenger, or any of the myriad of methodologies, all are based on the same principles.
Yet for some reason we persist in doing the things that drive customers away. We focus on what we care about, not what the customer cares about. We continue to pitch our products, letting customers figure out how they solve their problems. We don’t take the time to understand our customers—organizationally or individually—their priorities and key drivers. We are unprepared, shooting from the lip, wasting our customers’ time. We blindly email and phone prospects without any preparation or knowledge of our relevance. We leverage manipulative tactics to serve our own purposes, possibly taking advantage of the customer. We focus more on our goals than the customer’s success. We can’t articulate/create value or differentiation–training our customers only to expect the lowest price.
We’ve always known what we should be doing, but for decades have failed to change—perhaps only adopting new, more fashionable terminology or leveraging a veneer of technology, so we can expand the channels and methods by which we pummel customers with self centered pitches.
It isn’t digitally savvy customers self educating themselves that’s killing sales. It’s our inability to understand the value we can deliver to the digitally savvy customers in improving their businesses and achieve their goals. It’s our inability to put the customers’ success front and center in everything we do.
No self respecting Sales Professional or Customer should tolerate this!
Perhaps it’s good, there will always be important roles for top performing sales people, doing the things that create value for customers and our own businesses. Perhaps, the best thing for sales professionals of the future is that those doing everything wrong kill themselves off. Maybe then, we’d start changing how others perceive us.