A while back, I read an excellent blog by David Brock “How Well Do You Know Your Customer?”
He describes how his friend, Tim Ohai, put a crisp $100 bill on the table and challenged his sales reps to talk about their customer, their problems, opportunities and challenges for 20 minutes without ever mentioning their products – and the $100 would be theirs. The tragic part of this story is
that Tim has never paid anyone the $100! Many sales managers would love to lose the 100-dollar bet.
That story resonated with me and I use it constantly with the teams I coach to get them to visualize how often they pitch their products and services versus understanding more about the customer.
It is amazing how difficult it is for sales people to understand how beneficial it is to know more about your customer, and see the linkage between opportunity pursuit and account management. Let’s take a look at each of these.
Why is knowing more about your customer beneficial to you and your customer?
- You can align your products and services to their business goals and MBOs ensuring what you sell is a priority to your customer
- You can be viewed as a trusted advisor and have people come to you for expertise, since many times we know more about different lines of business than customers do internally
- You can increase your credibility by showing your customer that you care about helping them achieve their goals
- You can provoke and challenge early to begin to align yourself with the customer’s goals and strategies
How are opportunity pursuit and account management linked?
- The more you know about your customer, the better understanding you will have about their target business drivers and objectives
- The more you understand the business drivers and the MBOs attached, the better you can provide a true ROI against these goals
- The better you can provide a true ROI, the greater your probability of getting the deal done and potentially increasing the deal size since you cannot provide value pricing or underbid your products and services
So what does this have to do with the 100-dollar bet? The more you know about your customer and can talk to them in their language, the greater benefits for you, your company and your customer. This knowledge helps you to not only identify opportunities and the customer’s priorities, but also ensures that your products and services will help your customer get to their desired goals. So you can see why anyone would love to lose the 100-dollar bet. Everyone wins!
Janice Mars, principal and founder of SalesLatitude, is a senior business and sales executive with more than 30 years of experience helping companies build successful sales teams. She has parlayed that experience to help her clients to improve their sales processes, accurately forecast revenues, ensure focus on winnable opportunities, and attain consistent results.
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Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.