The universal lament of sales people is, “Why aren’t my customers buying? I’m busting my ass selling to them?”
We make dozens of prospecting calls, send hundreds of emails. We find customers with some level of interest, then do everything we can to convince the customers to buy our products.
We train ourselves about our products, become masters at pitching them and comparing them favorably with the competition. We spend hours mastering the “killer demo.” We know how to handle every objection, we’ve mastered closing techniques.
Some few of us have even understood the customers’ businesses a little, translating our solutions to their business needs. “We help decrease expense and improve productivity…. We help improve quality …. We help improve revenue and customer satisfaction….”
And all of those may be true, with lots of supporting case studies and data.
Yet our customers don’t buy!
A common strength of sales people is our compelling need to sell! The problem is, regardless how strong our need to sell, unless the customer has a compelling need to buy, we are wasting our time and the customers.’
What if we changed our focus? What if we started helping our customers understand the need to change? What if we helped them decide, “We cannot continue as we have, we must do something differently!”
None of this has anything to do with our products, it’s all about the customer—but not “generally.” It’s very specific to the customer and what the customer is facing now.
We can’t be limited to, “Customers, like you, have gotten these benefits….” Our focus has to be, “This is what it means to you and your company now…. Here are the consequences of not taking action….”
Only once the customer has reached this point, does it make sense for us to be presenting our solutions.
Sometimes, but not frequently enough, the customer reaches this point by themselves. They realize they must change, they assemble a buying group, they start doing their digital research. They may reach out to a sales person, or they may be receptive to our outreach. But too often, this is late in their buying process and many of their attitudes and opinions may be hardened, or they may be looking at the issues too narrowly.
We compete and win our fair share of these opportunities.
But what about that huge population of customers that need to change? What if we found them, inciting them to change? Our prospecting is very different. It’s about them, not us, so our prospecting strategies are never about our products.
We get things backwards. Regardless how strong our need to sell is, until we have a customer with a compelling need to buy, we are wasting our and our customers’ time.