The moon must be in a certain phase. All the prospecting calls I’ve been getting have been the same.
After introductions, they immediately launch into, “Here’s what we do…….”
I’d let the sales person finish his pitch, then reply, “I understand what your company does, but what can your company do for me and my company?” 100% of the time (OK, the sample size was about 5 calls), the response was, “Here’s what we do….”
I’d repeat my question, and they’d repeat the same answer.
As I reflected on the calls, I realized they aren’t too unusual. I reflected on many clients, listening to the calls their sales people make. All very similar to what I was hearing. When posed with the simple question, “what can you do for me and my company,” sales people struggle–even though they should know better.
It’s no surprise sales people do this, look at much of their training. Within their own companies, the discussions are usually about their products and solutions. I went into the eLearning site for a large client (thousands of sales people). Their site had no business acumen, market place, or related training. It had virtually no training on “here’s the problems your customers face and here’s what we do for them.” The training was all focused on products. But it was very product specific. It focused on the features, functions, capabilities of the products. I went through the 5 most popular programs, not a single program had a chart, “Here are the problems customers have, here’s how this product helps the customer eliminate those problems.”
And this is what creates the big disconnect with customers. They don’t care what we do…..
Let me rephrase that.
Customers care about what we can do to help them achieve their goals. And then, only if it is a high priority–or we make it a high priority.
This disconnect is primarily a contextual disconnect that we create. We don’t understand or take the time to research them–as individuals and their organizations.
This lack of understanding and basic research creates a number of problems:
- We reach out to people we have no business reaching out to, because they don’t have the problems we solve. We waste their time, creating a bad image of us, our company, and our solutions. Imagine the challenge of re-engaging when they do have those problems.
- We initiate conversations with what we do—-leaving it to the customer to connect the dots themselves. Do they have the problem that require what we do? Are they urgent? We all know the outcome of letting the customer try to figure it out. They don’t have the time, so they don’t take the time—even when they should—but that’s not their fault.
- We don’t understand their business and them well enough to create a sense of urgency if they do have a problem we solve. When we learn they have the problem, we immediately jump into what we do, completely bypassing the issue, “Why you must change now!”
There’s another case, where we jump into what we do far too early. It’s when we get the call from the customer, it’s the customer initiating the conversation, “I’m 57% through my buying process, I’d like to talk to you about what you do……” And we’re quick to respond, after all, that’s just what we always want to talk about. But we’ve completely missed out in understanding why they are interested, what they are trying to achieve, what problems they are trying to eliminate, and why it’s important to them now. As a result, we miss all the critical information we need to know about them, that enables us to position what we do and maximize our value.
When the customer calls to talk about what we do, we always serve them (and ourselves) better by pausing and asking, “First tell me about you and your business….”
Raising the results we create from our prospecting is relatively easy. It’s simply about changing the context of how we engage our prospects and customers.
It’s so simple, it should be so obvious, but it’s the exception when I see someone do it in their prospecting efforts with me.