Be Constantly Curious about the Crystal Ball of your Customers
by Ton Verleg
Thinking like a buyer has opened the eyes of many successful salespersons. Instead of following the sales process steps “uncovering the buyer’s need”, they realize it is much more about the Buyer recognizing that a need exists and the services offered by the current supplier cannot satisfy that need. Unfortunately, other salespeople struggle with this concept. They focus too much on the existing customer situation and not on what a better future for the customer could look like. As a result, they get themselves into a dead-end street because the prospective customer immediately compares their offerings to the current supplier. Yes, there may be some differences here and there, but none convinces the customer to make a drastic change. The added value of change is not worthwhile.
From the customer’s perspective, some added value services are missing from the current supplier, you (as the potential incoming supplier) is also not perfect. This ends up in the customer requesting you to differentiate more but then through price. Only then they may consider a change. Do you recognize this pattern?
Selling with the Buyer’s perspective takes a different approach. You are not looking for pain points or dissatisfaction and link the “needs’ to your solution. Instead, you are constantly curious about what your customer sees in their crystal ball. What do they see? They notice disruption of supply chains, leading to a shortage of what they need to manufacture or re-sell. They see business opportunities but also risks. They wonder what should be next on the senior management meeting agenda—expanding to new markets or more significant investments in research and development? But where is the money coming from? How can they grow faster, make more money or increase profits? These are questions middle managers are asking themselves, and they need help. Providing you sell with their perspective.
That is where you come in as a Trusted advisor—someone who has the customer’s objectives and business challenges in mind. You want to look with them at their crystal ball, digest with several stakeholders on what you see and contribute with ideas and insights they may not have been thinking of. This has nothing to do with what you sell. Not yet.
Instead of asking dozens of situational questions, be more provocative: “Dear customer, what is your 2022 year’s growth look like in comparison to previous years”? – And what is your strategy to achieve that”? use your business acumen in these conversations. Any business always wants to do better than the year before. So how can they stay ahead of their competitors? What needs to change? Their product? Their service? Is the market pushing them to change?
Using you as a sparring partner, they ask themselves: “Do I have the right suppliers lined up to achieve what we want to achieve this year”? And that is exactly where you may be able to help! Be constantly curious about the crystal ball of your customers – and prospects.Tags: Buyer-centric culture Ton Verleg