Customer, Customer, Customer
I’ve been selling and in front of senior executive clients for the better part of 20 years. I’ve had some exemplary sales training, as at IBM and elsewhere, but some of my best ‘teachers’ have been my clients who have taught me over the years what it looks like to earn their business and their trust. Follows are a few of my thoughts on ‘mistakes’ I see that companies make when engaging with clients and ultimately trying to sell and move their products and capabilities. There really is no right or wrong way to do things, and it all really is a matter of perspective, but I think companies can do more and in some cases better to gain mindshare with clients and prospective customers. I welcome your feedback.
1. It’s not about you and your company, it’s about THEM
Clients don’t want to be talked at. They don’t want decks. They don’t want to hear the long version of the history of your company; in fact, they don’t want to hear the history of your company at all. What they want is to be heard and understood. To do that, it takes really getting to know the person/people you are engaged with. Not out of the desire to get or win a sale. But because they are people and people have wants and desires. It also takes really knowing their company. If they’re a retailer, have you shopped their store? Do you order from them online? When I worked with Neiman Marcus as a client, I always had something on or with me, a handbag as an example, that was from their store. Clients pick up on these things and this is meaningful to them. It matters that you personally engage with their company. Doing this will allow you to really know your client and what makes them tick and what could be improved. Lastly and by no means least, do you know their industry. Clients want thought leadership. They want to be provoked and challenged. What’s going on in their market space that they ought to be aware of – a compelling use case with a strong ROI that you’ve seen, or a vantage point on the market that is new and fresh. Tell them something they ought to be aware of that they don’t already know. While the above sounds so obvious and trite, in practice, I often see these things being overlooked, to the detriment ultimately of the company and not the client (the client will simply find someone else to better engage with).
2. Clients don’t care about your product. Capabilities matter – what can you do to impact their bottom line
Your product is the least of your client’s concern. Rather, they care about themselves and their needs. Clients have business processes that need improving, they have market challenges they need to stay in front of and a set of strategies they’re busy executing. They have personal ambitions they’re driving toward. Do you have a capability – not a product, but rather what your product can do for them – that can help them advance their cause? This is what your customers want to learn about. Make and craft all your material to your customers as such – de-productize your marketing material. Instead, articulate a case study, a use case, a value proposition, an ROI. And make it relevant for them; no one wants boilerplate.
3. Genuinely seek to help; don’t ‘transact’
Genuine gestures. Really desire to aid in your client’s success. And seek a relationship. I’ve never met any client that wanted to be ‘transacted’ upon. Be so willing to help that if what you have can’t move the needle on their business that you’re willing to walk away. This will come back to you in spades – they’ll never forget that you put their business and needs first.
Tracy De Cicco is the Principal and Founder of konposit, LLC.
konposit assists clients in identifying new paths to revenue and value – whether through identification of and engagement with strategic alliance partners, transformation of value propositions and market messaging to appeal to decision makers, or identification, progression and closure of new sales prospects, opportunities and channels.
konposit provides consulting services to companies of all sizes, with a special focus on helping companies transform and sharpen their sales and market messaging to better engage with the C-suite and ultimately drive and close more business.
Tracy can be reached at either cell 303-570-3801 or firstname.lastname@example.org