Strengthen Your Patience
by Ton Verleg
“Patience is not passive, on the contrary, it is concentrated strength”Bruce Lee
When meeting prospects – or stakeholders you have never met before – of course, the first thing you do is introduce yourself. There is a bit of chit-chat time, followed by sharing the objectives of the meeting. You are engaging your customer in a discovery process, for you to know more about the customer, their challenges and how you can help. Unfortunately, old selling habits often take over and before you know it, you are talking about how you can solve the customer’s problems through your solutions. Do you recognize that?
One of the most challenging aspects of the new way of selling is to delay talking about your company and your solution. You need to strengthen your patience.
Why is talking about your solutions too early in the discovery process polluting a successful meeting? After all, isn’t the objective of a discovery process to figure out what the customer need or want? And, subsequently, doesn’t the customer want to know what solutions you have to meet those identified issues?
Yes and no. It is still about needs and wants, but how to get to these has changed. If you are still following a pre-internet discovery process, you will experience a clash with your prospect’s new way of buying. You will witness two worlds that are now light-years apart. Unfortunately, you will not create a significant difference by selling your solutions more intensively. The value that you deliver needs to be totally different from what it was before. It is no longer just how good your product, solution and company is but rather how well you help your customers thrive in their challenging world. And for that, you need to be patient with talking about your solutions.
So, what type of conversation needs to take place before solution selling? Let’s go back to the meeting with your prospect. Your stakeholder is in a Why Change? Phase, meaning they see no reason to change. To convince your contact to at least explore a change, you flip the discovery process on its head. Instead of you discovering needs and wants, it is your customer who discovers something about themselves. You want your potential buyer to realize that a certain business challenge is bigger than they initially thought and that remaining with the status quo comes with risks.
To have such a discussion, you cannot wing any meeting. Therefore, your preparation needs to be tip-top. Understand:
- What the company is looking to achieve as a business and learn the accompanying challenges.
- What market driven risks your prospect is exposed to. Is, for example, their business model still working? Would adapting or adding a different business model generate more customers and greater income?
- What consumer trends can you share as an insight, that the customer may have overlooked? How would that affect their business, their product development, their offered services, their growth, their margins?
- What stories you can share of similar customers who were in a similar situation. What did they learn and what actions did they take?
The thing is that your stakeholder may have been thinking about all the points you address. But they may not have considered the risk of not changing. Help your stakeholder see that their current setup may not deliver the results they are looking for.
If you do this well, it is the customer who is discovering something; you have created their interest to at least explore a change. And that puts you in a better position to discuss what new criteria a solution should meet – to achieve what they are trying to accomplish as a business. In this subsequent discussion, you still do not talk about your solution, but instead, you let the customer discover the possible solution criteria needed for success.
Before talking about your solution, you use your business acumen to guide the discovery and together with your stakeholder you build a business case for change. Think about Bruce Lee’s quote, about how powerful the patience of not talking about your solution is. Not leading with your solution is not passive – it is concentrated strength.Tags: Ton Verleg