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Forcing The Customer To Do “Our Jobs”

by David Brock on March 1st, 2022

It’s no wonder customers are, increasingly, opting for a rep-free experience. Not only do we not understand what they are trying to do; or we focus primarily on our interests and quota attainment rather than their goals; but we force them to do our jobs!

Buying (with the exception of procurement) is not our customers’ primary job. They have their day jobs, which may be overwhelming. Then on top of that, they are trying to fix something, change, take advantage of an opportunity–which often provokes a buying journey. Somehow, they have to find the time to fit this into their already too busy agendas.

Then, they have to deal with us, whether they have invited us or we are uninvited intruders. Instead of doing our job, we force them to do our jobs, robbing them of their time.

Let’s think about the many ways we rob the customer of time, by not doing our jobs, forcing the customer to do our work for us.

It starts with our prospecting. We send enormous volumes of emails, mostly untargeted, mostly focused on “can I sell you something,” mostly irrelevant to the customer and what they are trying to achieve. But we fill their inboxes, text messages, voicemails, and InMails, taking their time to do what we should have done.

Rather than figuring out who might be interested and why. Rather than creating something that has meaning for them, we “paper” the world with outreaches, forcing the recipients to deal with them, determining their relevance.

They may spend a few seconds reading the email. Perhaps the subject line, perhaps the first paragraph. The majority of the time, these messages are irrelevant to them and what they are trying to do. Some, politely, respond, saying, No interest,” which inevitably creates another followup from us, further wasting time. Most simply delete the email. Some unsubscribe or spam the email.

If my email inbox is representative, I receive over 100 emails a day. At least 60% of them are meaningless, untargeted requests to sell be something or to get me to take some action on behalf of the sender. Just the act of deleting them is a distraction and takes my time. Some may be vaguely relevant, I take a little time considering what it might mean to me or my company, 90% of the time deleting them with no response.

But these are distractions, they take my time to take action. Even if it’s as simple as hitting delete, spam, or unsubscribe, it robs me of my time. And we know, every distraction takes us 23-25 minutes to resume what we were doing prior to the interruption.

We waste thousands of person hours of our customers’ time because we haven’t done our jobs. We haven’t taken the time to target the right audience, sending to “occupant of current resident,” or people/organizations far outside the ICP. We don’t research those we seek to engage, understanding their challenges, businesses, opportunities, and whether we can help them or not. We don’t engage them in things that are relevant to them, forcing them to take the time to figure this out themselves. Then we focus on ourselves and our products, forcing them to figure out whether it’s meaningful to them.

And then, if the customer wants to continue the discussion, we put the onus on them to fit into our schedules and agendas.

Then for the prospects, we do engage, again, we force them to do large parts of our jobs–in addition to theirs. We focus on pitching our products, solutions, companies, and capabilities. The “discovery questions” we may ask, focus on our needs and less the customers.’ As a result, the onus is on the customer to figure out if and where the fit might be. We force, on them, the task of figuring out what questions they should be asking of us and the competitors. Rather than leveraging our experience in seeing others buy, helping them navigate their buying process, we leave it to them to figure it out.

Where we have the capability, and responsibility, to be helpful to the customer, we are too busy or uncaring to help them, forcing them to take the time to figure things out themselves.

We are unprepared, we shoot from the lip, we don’t understand our customers/their business/what they are trying to achieve. Too often, through our poor planning/execution, we take more time and more meetings than we need to. We wander, undisciplined through our own selling process, ignoring the work customer have to do in their buying process.

All this robs the customer of their time, forcing them to do things we should be doing to help them.

Is it any wonder that customers are looking for more efficient alternatives? After all, their time is already constrained, they don’t have the time to do our jobs on top of that they are held responsible for.

Perhaps, we could consider reversing this. Rather than forcing our customers to do our job, what if we helped make things easier for them? What if we helped them in doing their jobs? Might we create greater interest, receptivity, and value?

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