Wouldn’t it be great if all your customers wore a sign around their necks telling us what’s important to them? Specifically stating how they get paid and what their priorities are? I know most of us would. Especially since getting that information can be difficult if you don’t have the right relationship and/or the credibility. But the truth is, you’ll win more deals by helping executives
reach their MBOs – a commission plan based on management by objectives.
You’ve all heard me say this before: selling to your reasons is actually harder than selling to your customers’ reasons (business objectives) and their MBOs (bonuses and incentives). If you can identify what they are trying to achieve and link how your products and services can get them there with minimal risk, then you are golden.
So often, I see sales people selling to their reasons. They find a problem they know their products and solutions can “fix” and they sell away. Now, it may not be a top priority for the executive, but it may be for someone lower in the organization who has been tasked with getting this one project completed. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with this, but you may be working really hard to close a deal that is not the big priority project, and therefore, may not be deemed by the customer to be worth as much as the projects that will help executives reach their MBOs.
There are many levels of company management and you must make it your mission to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and understand what their priorities are
and “how they get paid.” The better you can link to the overall goals of the company, the better chance you’ll have of truly helping them reach their business objectives. For example:
- A senior manager who is running a project will care that the project is successful and the features and functions work as promised. They may want faster reporting/better dashboards.
- An executive who is running a line of business will care about how the faster reporting/better dashboards will get them to their business objectives, such as increasing revenue by 8% in the next 12-15 months or decreasing costs by 10% year over year for the next 3 years, for instance.
Our job as sales people is to learn what different levels of executives are trying to achieve and understand the connection up and down the customer’s organizational hierarchy
. This data will help us change the conversation to be more about them and less about us. So how do you get this illustrious information that is so key to helping them solve their biggest problems?
- Do your research! Learn as much as you can about your customer.
- Validate and confirm the information you have learned from multiple key stakeholders using the customer’s vernacular. Ask open-ended questions to fill in the blanks.
- Do not be tempted to talk about your features and functions. Keep the conversation all about them.
- “Re-train” your customer so they understand that you truly want to know more about their business – not so much in terms of where your products and services can help, but in understanding their overall priorities and business objectives so you can help them get to their MBOs (bonuses).
- Use your new and improved credibility quotient to share the wealth both in your customer’s other divisions/lines of business and within your own organization.
Over time, you will see how helping executives reach their MBOs will improve how your customer perceives you. You will no longer be the one they run from; rather, you will be part of their solution to improve their success. Yes, it would be easier if everyone wore a sign around their necks, but unfortunately, you have to get the information the good old hard way – by asking for it and validating it with multiple key stakeholders. You will be in awe of the results and how your customer treats you. And you will never go back to having it be all about you.
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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