Most sales people are very fast-we think fast, we react, we talk. We’re prepared to immediately jump in, reacting to anything that’s happened in our deals. We’ve been through similar situations over and over, we have polished responses and can deal with virtually anything. The customer says something, we respond.
Couple that with being busy. We have too much on our plates. We have reviews, meetings, we’re measured by activities—often meaningless activities.
We don’t take the time to prepare, after all we can just shoot from the lip.
We can always respond to anything the customer does, we listen for the right words from the customer, triggering a product pitch.
It’s no wonder customers don’t want to see us. It’s no wonder that customers are completing as much as 70% of their buying process before engaging sales people.
Customers don’t want a knee jerk reaction. They don’t want the rehearsed response. They want to invest their time with people who are prepared, who are ready to engage in high impact conversations about their businesses.
Customers want engagement. They want people who are knowledgeable, interested, can contribute to solving their problems, they want people who care. We don’t get this level of customer engagement by shooting from the lip.
Great customer engagement requires planning and preparation. We have to have a few goals in mind, we have to make sure the customer is aligned with those goals. We have to look at how we help move the customer forward in their buying process, also moving us forward in our sales process.
Important things include:
- Do we know what we want to achieve?
- Is the customer aligned? Have we previewed the agenda? Will they be prepared, do we have the right people participating?
- Have we written down what we want to accomplish?
- Have we anticipated questions, concerns the customer may have?
- Have we prepared any proofs critical to helping the customer understand?
- Do we know what value we will create for the customer?
We can’t achieve these things by shooting from the lip. We have to plan and prepare.
The funny thing is this is what the customer wants. They don’t want their time wasted, it’s precious to them. They want to learn and move forward.
The funny thing about planning and preparing. It increases the quality of our conversations and engagement. It helps the customer and us make progress–shortening the buying and sales cycle.
We have a choice. We can shoot from the lip–reacting, responding. Or we can offer leadership, planning, orchestrating, creating value for the customer in moving through their buying process.