By Dale Wolf, Cincom Acquire
This post begins with the one immediately below. It is a quote from a Robert Ludlum novel. Ludlum did not know he was teaching us a sales lesson, but he was.
Think like the customer thinks. Not how you want him (her) to think, but how s/he actually thinks.
Ludlum goes on to remind us that thinking like the enemey (or in our case, like the customer) is not easy.
What is easy is fooling yourself that the customer thinks like you think and therefore you can anticipate every barrier he is going to pitch your way. That is the trap that far too many marketing and sales people fall into. We treat customers as if they were all the same. We give them all the same powerpoint pitch. We send them all to the same website where the content is written for the average customer. But there is no average customer.
When we reduce people to a "lowest common denominator" approach and template our communications into a conversation that we want to hold instead of the conversation that the one customer wants to have, you might as well fold up your calling cards and run them through the shredder.
There's a reason that only 6% of all companies can maintain consistently growth in revenue for even a few consecutive years (a fact established in a huge study done by The Conference Board).
The reason is that we do not take the time to know and understand customers as individuals.
That's what Ludlum's character in The Matarese Circle" was telling us. You can kid yourself because kidding yourself is easy. We all like things to be fast and easy. But communication does not work like that.
We must learn how to appeal to the individual. Our messages must be creative enough to break through the clutter.
When we look at how complicated it is to sell a complex product, it's a wonder any of us get up out of bed in the morning. This is not easy. There are a thousand ways for a sale to die.
The really sad thing is that about 850 of those barriers to a sale happen right inside our own companies. We are the ones that put up barriers. Slow response to a customer's unique needs. Poor internal collaboration. A website that does not move the prospective customer further into the sales cycle. Taking too long to configure a product from many existing components (giving the customer time to go out and shop his needs with our competitors). It is death by a thousand cuts.
Take Ludlum's tip. Know how the enemy really thinks. And then anticipate every potential barrier and make those barriers disappear. Get the right technology in place to assist internal team collaboration and to configure the right solution ... FAST.
Selling is hard enough. So at least give your sales people the tools to overcome the barriers. If you do this well, you have a good chance of joining the 6% of companies that achieve consistent revenue growth.