Often, we have solutions and capabilities that address a wide range of customer challenges or problems. It may be we have a solution that have a wide range of capabilities (A lot of IT solutions, enterprise wide solutions, professional services, etc.). Or we may have a portfolio of solutions that address a range of things that are helpful to the customer.
Too often, in our outreach to customers, we inflict all the things we can do for them. Then we leave it to the customer to figure out where they need the help.
And we know what happens, the customer doesn’t have the time to figure it out, and nothing happens. And we keep going back to them, saying “We can help you out with all these issues….”
Recently, I was asked to review a presentation a sales team was preparing. They had gotten an audience with executives at one of their largest customers. They were preparing a capabilities presentation. The presentation was like 90% of the presentations I see. It focused on them:
Here’s who we are and how great we are…
Here’s our corporate glamour page showing all the impressive logos of customers we work with….
Here are all our great products and what we can do for you…..
The customer was polite, listened, asked a few questions, thanked them and said, “Let us think about this a little….”
And you know what happened, they never heard from the customer.
It’s not the customers’ jobs to figure out where/how/if we can help them.
We create more value for the customers, when we come to them with specific, relevant ideas of where they might have the opportunity to improve, to do something differently, to address a new opportunity.
As we’ve worked with you, we’ve seen this issue coming up….
As we’ve studied your company, we’ve seen this problem, how is it impacting you? If you could address it you might be able to do this…
We see this issue impacting other organizations like your. How are you dealing with it?
Rather than making it the customer’s job to figure out where we might help, we come to them with ideas about how they might improve, changes they might make, things they may not be aware of.
It’s the starting point of a conversation and engaging the customer in thinking about changing.
Sometimes the response might be, “We didn’t realize this, tell us more…..” This response provokes more discussion about the problem or issue and why they might want to address it.
Sometimes the response might be, “This isn’t an issue for us….” or “This isn’t a priority now…” This response should produce a discussion around, “Wow, that’s interesting, why isn’t an issue, how are you dealing with it……” The discussion may change their point of view. It may give us a deeper understanding of the customer.
And often, this response might be, “This isn’t an issue for us, but you got us thinking, we have another challenge here…..” We’ve seen so many occaisions where customers appreciate your understanding of their business. And while you may have identified the wrong issue, because of the knowledge you have demonstrated, they want to talk to you about those issues.
Customers are looking for insights, they are looking to learn about how they might grow and improve. They are looking to understand problems, issues, they may have overlooked.
Rather than saying, “these are all the problems we can help you solve, where do you want to start….,” it is far more helpful to say, “We’ve noticed this, why don’t you start here…..”