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You Can’t Get What You Want By Focusing On What YOU Want

by David Brock on December 3rd, 2014

Bear with me on my word play in the title.  I was just doing some deal reviews with a very frustrated sales person.  He had a deal that was very important to him.  He’d been working it for a long time, he needed it to make his numbers, he was in the closing stage of the process.

Apparently, he was winning the deal, but he couldn’t get the PO.  He told me, “They’ve told me I’ve won and I should get the PO any day now.  But that was weeks ago, I keep calling them asking, ‘Where’s the PO?’  They keep pushing me off, they don’t give me any information.  What do I do?”

I hear variations of this every day.  As sales people, we are very focused on our goals, objectives, and numbers.  We’re driven to get what we want.  We harass customers (sometimes politely, sometimes not) to get what we want.  Most of the time we either annoy or piss off the customer, or run into a brick wall.

The problem is the customer (or partner) doesn’t care—nor should they.  What we want, our goals and objectives are meaningless to them.  Every once in a while, they might try to help us out.

Getting more frustrated, pushing harder, or worse, going back and offering a deeper discount if they move faster won’t help.

When I told that to the sales person, he got a little bit upset and pushed back, “Do you mean I should give up?  Do you mean I should not focus on achieving my goals and numbers—after all you are focusing on what my performance is?”

Of course we can’t give up, we have to get the PO, we have to move the deal forward, but doing it by focusing on our goals and what we want doesn’t help the customer.

The way we get what we want is to focus on the customer and helping the customer get what she wants.  Our customers are trying to solve a problem, they are trying to address issues within their own organizations.  Like us, they face challenges and roadblocks.  They have to align people on their teams, get approvals from management, they have to decide that solving this problem is the most important thing for them to do.

Until we understand what the customer wants (and why it is so urgent), until we understand what is standing in the way of them getting what they want and help them overcome whatever obstacles in their way, we will never get what we want.

So achieving our goals becomes much simpler.  Helping the customer achieve their goals, helping them drive the changes they want to have happen, helping them move through their buying cycle gets them what they want.  At that point, they are able to and prepared to give us what we want.

It seems so simple, yet almost all the time we focus on “What’s in it for me,”  when we should be focusing on “What’s in it for the customer/partner/etc?”

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