Speaking, writing and reading are integral to everyday life, where language is the primary tool for expression and communication. Language plays a big role in how others perceive your world and theirs. Not only can the words you use make a huge difference, but the topics you bring up in customer conversations can determine how impactful and valuable you are in contributing to the time you spend together. It’s not only important how you say it, but also what you say.
For decades, salespeople started the customer conversation with a chat gap followed by discovery questions so that the salesperson could better understand the customer’s situation. Often, the objective was to discover pain points and dissatisfaction with their current supplier and situation so that problem-solving solutions could be proposed.
How things have changed. Leading conversations with your solutions solving value offering will end your meetings earlier than you wish for. Why?
- In a way, it is disrespectful to your customer. You are asking questions you should know the answer to. You’re wasting their time.
- Don’t think you are the first salesperson your customer is meeting with. They see right through you; they have heard it all before and know what you are trying to achieve with these types of discovery questions.
- And above all, your approach doesn’t add any value to them. So why would they continue listening to you?
Their mind is somewhere else, especially now in uncertain times. The more uncertainty, the more customers put things on hold. In their world, change is risky, and starting something new is difficult. They are afraid of making wrong decisions.
But their business challenges are not going away. They still need to hit their top and bottom-line targets. Future investments depend on achieving Profit Margins. If their mind is in business, then so should yours.
In particular, when customers are in the Why (should I) Change? Phase of their buying process, a business conversation, is more welcomed than a sales conversation. They will lean in the more you talk about numbers, percentages, and margins. The more you demonstrate Business Acumen, the more they want other stakeholders to hear what you have to say. They know what they know about their business, but not what you know about other similar companies and insights you learned from your experience.
The most likely reason they have agreed to meet with you is that they have explored internally new growth strategies and are running out of ideas, or at least one that is good enough. They are curious if you have something they didn’t know but should know. They want to see if you have a different perspective of what’s coming, what’s trending, how these can impact them as a business, and, foremost, how to anticipate differently than they initially thought. What are your ideas on developing existing markets or entering new ones? What different commercial direction or income vertical has your customer not explored yet? How can they make a strategic leap from their competitors?
To get senior managers to change, you need to speak like them. Business is the new language of selling.