Pause for a moment. Look at your qualified pipeline. Start at the bottom. Can you identify the problem the customer is trying to solve? Or the opportunity they are trying to address?
I ask this in every deal review I participate in. At least 80% of the time, the response I get is, “They are trying to buy……..” or, “We are selling….”
We always tend to define the customer business problems in terms of what we sell, not what the customer is trying to do–whether it’s solving a problem or addressing the opportunity.
What we sell is just one thing in the path of what the customer is trying to achieve.
What we sell is just one thing in the path of what the customer is trying to achieve. We focus on what we sell because that’s what’s important to us, but what’s important to the customer is the problem they are trying to solve.
To be successful in engaging customers we have to make everything about them. To do that, you have to be able to answer the following questions in terms meaningful to them?
What is the problem/opportunity they are trying to solve?
Why do they need to solve it now?
Why is this project important to their management?
What are the consequences of doing nothing?
What outcomes do they expect as a result of solving the problem?
What’s in it for them (personally and organizationally) to solve the problem now?
How well do they understand the problem and what they are trying to do?
These are the foundational questions for every opportunity. Of course there are many others, like who’s involved, how will they make a decision, what alternatives are they considering. But if we can’t crisply answer these 7 questions in customer terms, we will always be disadvantaged in our engagement process, we will fail to create the value the customer needs.
Look at your top 10 deals. Can you answer these questions for those deals. If you can’t, get busy!
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.