Deep dive with me for a moment into the world of a customer looking for the next growth opportunity. Say we have Harry, Elise, Lily and Peter as the primary stakeholders concerned with this task and doing their research individually and collectively to develop ideas, and prepare a pitch to their senior management team. Can you imagine this? A pretty regular kind of thing that businesspeople are busy with every day, right? Harry and Elise are in the Marketing function, Lily is responsible for the company’s Operations, and Peter is the Commercial guy. So what is going through their heads?
- What options have we looked at so far?
- How would we rank these as priorities?
- Have we looked at the right information?
- Have we looked at enough information?
- Is there conflicting information?
- How can we verify this?
They invite their current suppliers to meetings, wondering what value they can add to their tasks and concerns. But, of course, companies rarely put their eggs in one basket, so they also talk to competitor sales reps of their present supplier.
The value shared during these meetings and how that value is perceived by Harry, Elise, Lily, and Peter is crucial to the success of the Customer… and the Sales rep.
Unfortunately, the value barometer turns zero for sales reps who turn these opportunities into a – we are better, bigger and look at our solution discussion. Why? Well, simply because the task team is not at all in that Buying phase. They are definitely in Why Change? and not in Change to Who? Phase. Customers who do not know if they should change or are looking for reasons to change are not ready for conversations about products, solutions, benefits or special discounts. It is not on their mind. Your job, at this stage of the Buying Process is not at all persuading your stakeholder to buy your solution. The focal point of the conversation is not your product, not your company. Not at all.
To make it even worse, these Solution Selling Sales reps often leave the meeting by offering a price “just in case.” How do you think the Customer perceives that? It is like window shopping, glancing at items with price tags and still not finding what you want—an activity we do daily as consumers. Offering a price without a direct link to a seeked value is a tactic worth nothing.
Not Tactical, Not Strategic
The task team did meet with a few SalesReps who brought insights to the table, but unfortunately, the context and relevance to the desired growth opportunity were missing or not explained well enough. Harry, Elise, Lily and Peter were now even more confused because the possible information to analyze, was stacking up like a pile of pancakes. The questions on their mind was, “should we read this white paper or that white paper? Is this article relevant or not, and what about the other website and articles links that the sales rep provided for more information? Should we also look at that?”
Ironically the acronym of Harry, Elise, lily and Peter names spells out HELP, and that’s exactly what your focus should be. Helping with what they are busy with and what they are tasked to do: which is finding strategic reasons to change.
So, instead of throwing just more information-wood on the fire, explain why you share a particular insight. What does that new information mean to their challenge? How should that change their perspective? What does make sense for the task team to take action, or not?
This is not about sharing tactical advantages like ‘faster delivery’ or ‘superb track and trace transparency; your insightful information should be about strategic advantages your stakeholder should instigate and benefit from. E.g., you see market and industry trends, changes in consumer behaviour, or upcoming disruptors as a potential risks in years to come. Not reacting to these changes may have a strategic impact on your Customer.
Explain the context of your insights well. On many occasions, from the Buyer’s Perspective, it is not always about being the disruptor or the front runner, but more often, it is the fear of missing out (FOMO) that drives them to explore a change with you. Therefore, strategic insights deliver far greater value than tactical insights.
Customers are hungry for insights. Just be aware of what you put on their plate. Strategic Eats Tactical for Breakfast.