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What Do We Talk To Them About?

by David Brock on December 20th, 2011

What do we talk to our customers and prospects about?  To me, the answer is obvious–yet based on the calls and emails I get from sales people, somehow it must not be that obvious.

Everyday, I must get at least a dozen emails or calls from sales people wanting to talk to me—typically the subject they want to talk about is there products.  Most of the attempts to start a conversation  are just clumsy, “I’d like to talk to you about what we sell.”  Some are more artfully worded–“I’d like to discuss how leveraging [Insert some capability] can help your business.”  Or take one that I got from a large well known Sales 2.0 supplier,  “I wanted to check in to see if you had 5 minutes to discuss your business priorities for 2012 and whether on of our solutions might be a fit……..”  Apparently these people received some sort of training, but still they want to talk about their products.

However, well or poorly executed, what we want to talk about is what we want to talk about–ourselves, our products, our company, and why they must buy our stuff.  The focus is on us and what we want to achieve.

But what our customers want to talk about is what they want to talk about, what’s important to them, what they are trying to achieve, their problems and opportunities, what’s going on with their customers, in their markets and industries.

Determining what they want to talk about isn’t that difficult, even if we don’t know them.  Let your fingers do some walking through their company’s website, google their customers, competition, industries, markets, find out what is happening.  Look at their company’s financial performance, reputations, what’s being said about them.  These give you starting points on developing an educated guess about what they might want to talk about.

Look at their function, what are people in their function interested in?  How are they typically measured?  What are the issues they are their peers are likely to be facing?  Your buyer personas should provide great insight about what they might be interested in.

Look even deeper, go to their LinkedIn page, what do they say about themselves?  What are they interested in–usually it’s sitting there about to smack you in the face.

“But Dave, you really don’t get it, I’ve got to talk to them about my stuff.  I need to make my quota and sell the something!”  

That’s not unreasonable–afterall, we aren’t in the conversation business, otherwise we would each be hosting talk shows on the web.  We are focused on accomplishing our objectives–but too often our execution ends up being the pitch–from the very first conversation to the last (which often is the same).

The answer is pretty simple, we shouldn’t be talking to people who aren’t likely to have an interest in what we want to talk about.  We shouldn’t casting out aimlessly for “conversations.”  We want to focus on people whose interests are parallel to our interests—people who have goals, problems, opportunities that we can do something about.  This is why knowing our “sweet spot,” is so important–people in that sweet spot are much more likely to have interests that are aligned with our interests.

There is no excuse for not talking to our customers about what they want to talk about.  The information is too readily available, too easy to get.  So why do so many sales people ignore this—then later complain they can’t get people to talk to them?

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