In today’s world, it’s pretty easy to “know the answers.” At least with respect to our products, we have endless content, training, years of experience. We can answer any question customers are likely to have about our products and solutions. We can compare them, factually, with the alternatives, showing how our approach might be superior.
We know about, or should know, the problems our solutions address. We should be able to address all the questions a customer might have.
We have tools, like ChatGPT, to help us find more answers. We know that CMOs of certain types of businesses are likely to be measured in certain ways, have certain performance objectives and goals. We know similar things about CFOs in other industries. We can leverage these tools to characterize any role that we might engage.
And we can do all of this, never having spoken with a customer.
But having the “answers,” data, and information is meaningless unless we know what it means.
How is it impacting the organization? How is it impacting each individual involved in the buying process? What does it mean to them and how do they feel about it? What is the specific impact, what are the risks, what are the unique success factors and what to those mean to each person involved in the decision?
The tough part of buying is not getting the answers, but knowing what the answers mean.
Where we fail in connecting with our customers is that while we know the answers, we don’t know what they man to these individuals.
And until we make this connection, we aren’t creating the confidence they need to move forward with the decision.
I was struck by the following from David Brooks’, How To Know A Person: The Art of Seeing Others Deeply and Being Deeply Seen.”
“Wisdom isn’t knowing about physics or geography. Wisdom is knowing about people. It is the ability to see deeply into who people are and how they move into the complex situations of life.”
While Brooks is addressing more fundamental issues, the concept applies to what our customers go through in embarking on complex change initiatives. The facts and data aren’t the issue, but understanding what they mean to each individual is what’s critical.
Anyone can know the answers, few know what they mean.