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  1. Dave, your post led me to the deeper question of why salespeople focus on what they want to do with their customer instead of The Customer and what the customer is trying to achieve.

    It’s human nature to view things from our perspective. As a physicist, you understand that everyone and everything, from a relative perspective, is at the center of the universe. Most everyone strolling under the moon has felt like the moon follow them. This is why people think inside the box. This is why sales and marketing folks write me-centric messages. We can’t help ourselves; it’s our nature.

    I’ve battled self-centeredness my entire life. I’m a selfish guy by nature. Fortunately, my wife and children love me anyway. But clients would never have loved me the way they do had I not made them, their needs and wants the center of our dealings. It takes me a tremendous amount of effort.

    Understanding why helped me develop a strategy. In addition to general call and longer-range planning, I practice(ed) conversations in my head. Imagined possible contingencies and unexpected questions, and drilled customer focused responses. I was in constant training. Catching me talking to myself; lips moving, gears cranking in my head and smoke coming out of my ears was normal.

    When I moved into sales management, the customer-centric mindset became the centerpiece of my training and coaching. Most of my salespeople didn’t understand the importance of a customer focus due to previous training and being human. Explaining why we do what we do and how changing that improved their sales and commissions inspired them to focus on their customer and what their customer wanted to achieve.

    You could say that focusing on your salespeople and what they want to achieve trains them to do the same with their customers.

    As always, you inspire great thought and action.

    • Gary, you always add such a thoughtful perspective and get me to up my game. You cover a lot in this comment–I’ll actually write some posts on this.

      Being self centered isn’t inconsistent with being customer focused. In some real sense, we are driven by what we want to achieve. The trick is, that we don’t get there unless our customers get there. So by focusing on our customers, we actually position ourselves to get what we want much more easily and effectively.

      Likewise, as managers, our sales people are our customers. So we should treat them just as we would our customers—understand them, focus on them, help them achieve, which enables managers to achieve.

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