We have all sorts of technologies that give us the “answers.” ChatGPT can answer just about any question imaginable (As long as the data is before April 2023). Where years ago, we struggled to find answers, now they are abundant.
But we have some new challenges, “Do we understand what the answers mean and can we apply them to the specific situation?” ‘Do we understand which answer we might choose or recommend, and why we should make those choices?” “Do we have answers that are meaningful and impactful to our customers, and do they get it?”
I sit in all sorts of meetings where sellers are using these tools to develop and execute their engagement strategies. I ask, “Why is this important to the customer? What does it mean? Why should they care?” Most of the time, I get blank stares or shrugs. Every once in a while, someone will pose that as a query to ChatGPT, with responses being very generic-not specific to the customer or current situation.
Having the answer is less of a challenge, knowing what we are being presented with, what it means, and which we should choose is where we and our customers struggle.
We have no exclusivity with the answers. Our customers can enter their own queries, so can our competition. Perhaps the answers, themselves are not differentiating, but the conversations around those answers and what they mean to the customer are where we set ourselves apart.
To make our answers impactful, we have to:
- Connect them directly to the issues/performance of the customer, moving from the abstract to the specific.
- Connect them to the priorities at the moment, for each situation, recognizing priorities may shift.
- Connect them to each individual and what it means to them, building their confidence.
- Focus on the answers that are most relevant to the situation the customer finds themselves in.
- Link the risks and how the customer might mitigate the risks.
- Express them in the language of the customer.
- Leverage customer specific data to help them understand the impact/exposure in a contextually, situationally specific way. As part of this, we need to know what data to look for to develop these answers.
Our tools have limited capability to do this. They may give us a starting point. They may help us develop the answers, but we have to be able to engage our customers in collaborative conversations translating the answers from data into meaning. We have to help the customer translate the answers into specific impact. We have to help the customer build their confidence not only in the answers we provide, but also in the decisions they make.
How do we do this? Deeper understanding of the business and the functions of the buyers we work with. Deeper understanding of the relevant data and performance metrics important to those customers. Stated differently: business and financial acumen.
Beyond this, we have to have empathy, the ability to connect with customers beyond the facts and data, understanding how they feel about the situation.
Today, it’s easy to provide answers. But understanding what they mean and helping the customer understand these are what sets sellers apart.