I’d spent a long day doing deal reviews and a few critical call planning reviews. Everyone was well prepared—part of it was they knew they had to be. Apparently, my reputation for being tough had preceded me.
The reviews were filled with strategies, goals, action plans. Many had deep competitive analysis with plans to overcome the competition.
The discussions with team members and managers focused on “What are we selling, When, How Much Will We Get, What are the risks, When can you commit to the forecast, When do we need to ship, Can we upsell them, What discounting do we need to be prepared to give, ……”
In listening, the customer seemed almost incidental to the conversation.
Don’t get me wrong, the sales people would describe the customer, the people involved and so forth, but everything was done in the context of what is was the sales people were selling and what they needed to do to get an order.
But the conversations weren’t about the customer, but about what we needed to do to/with the customer.
And perhaps that’s why we struggle so much with our deals. Think about it a moment, if we develop and execute the very best in our sales strategies (and too few do), why is it that so many deals end with no decision made? Why is it that win rates are plummeting? Possibly it isn’t about us and what we do, but more about the customer doing their jobs of buying!
It IS all about the customer and what they are trying to achieve.
Perhaps we change our deal reviews to focus on the customer, their buying, and our role in supporting/accelerating their process.
Maybe we look at why the customer believes they must change, what the customer sees as the consequences of taking no action.
We might want to focus on where they want to go, what they want to achieve–making sure we are the best at helping the do that (otherwise we are wasting their and our time.).
We know the customer will struggle with buying–not because they don’t want to buy or can’t find the money, but in managing the buying process itself. There are different people, differing priorities, lots of agendas–all built on shifting sands. Helping them reach a decision, creating value in their decision-making process enables them to achieve their goals. If they don’t achieve theirs, then it’s impossible for us to achieve ours.
I could go on, but you get the point. If we make our deal and opportunity strategies more about the customer, less about us, we make the customer more interested in working with us simply because of our focus. As a result, our deal reviews and strategy sessions become more about the customer journey and helping them complete the journey.
The most effective and efficient way for us to achieve our goals is when we stop making it about us, but instead focus on making it all about the customer and their buying journey.