As sales people, we know we have to engage our customers in disruptive thinking. We need to them to think about their businesses or functions differently, we need them to see new opportunities, we need them to recognize changes going on all around them.
As we look at our customers from the outside, what we see is a corporate level view. We see the positioning of the company, we see the priorities of top management. We understand their strategies for growth, for competing. It’s these that drive or should be driving the actions, behaviors of everyone in the organization.
Yet the people we deal with, unless we deal exclusively at the C and BOD levels, have their jobs. They have the things that consume their time every day. Meetings, projects, designing and manufacturing all sorts of widgets, marketing, selling, supporting, and getting paid for them. Too often, “our customers” the people we deal with every day are “distant” from understanding the corporate priorities and strategies.
The CEO is someone they may see on video or in “all hands meetings.” But the challenges the corporation faces, their strategies to win, grow, compete are very distant from what our customers do every day. As a result, they often have difficulty connecting the dots between what they do every day and their contribution to those things the BOD, CEO, and top executives care about.
You may be asking, “So what, why do they need to know how what they do has an impact? Why should I care? I just want to sell them something!”
The critical issue is: If our customers can’t demonstrate how what they are doing or what they want to do impacts the ability of the corporation to execute their strategy, then it simply won’t be approved!
A corollary is: If they can’t see how the change that we are trying to sell them, contributes to the ability of the company to achieve it’s goals, they won’t take the risk of presenting that change and asking for funding to top management!
The problem is, too many times our customers may not recognize these issues. They, like everyone, tend to think just of their jobs, their roles, what they have to get done. They may engage in a buying activity as part of getting their work done. They may want to spend money on new tools, services, or other things–because it helps them do their jobs more effectively. But if those things don’t contribute, in some way to the things top management thinks is important, it won’t be approved.
As a result, both they and we can invest a lot of time and effort, only to be disappointed in the end with a “No Decision Made.”
To make sure our customers get what they want to do their jobs, we have to make sure they have connected the dots to the top priorities of the organization. They have to present and justify what they want to do in the context of how it impacts key corporate strategies and initiatives. It doesn’t have to have a huge impact–if they are buried very low in a large organization, it’s unlikely to move the needle, but it has to make a contribution.
We create greater value by helping our customers understand this, helping them build their business case, and helping them sell their change initiatives to their management.
Do you know how to connect the dots of what they are doing to the top goals of the organization?
Are you helping your customers do the same?