The Idea: A senior buyer once shared, “everyone has an idea for me, but most don’t understand what it takes to sit across the table from me.” So why do many higher level sales discussions fail and why are the meetings fueled by fear? Most sales organizations fear their customer asking for more (or applying pressure), fear of losing leverage or fear of being surprised by bad news. Lack of trust, rooted in fear, must be eliminated for discussions to thrive.
Three simple ideas can rebuild trust, while setting the atmosphere for highly productive, intimate business relationships. These ideas focus on high collaboration, creative problem solving and vulnerable risk taking.
- Outward Focus – The very best customer-centric organizations are magnificent listeners and very astute at understanding their customer’s agenda. They uncover hidden opportunities because they listen and ask questions that uncover valuable insights that their customer may not even know about. Asking “Why?” reveals your customer’s deeper needs, unstated politics and relational challenges which are essential to forging a deeper relationship.
- A Story – Most sales discussions are comprised of way too much information; they overwhelm rather than tell a story. Great stories transport the listener from the role of judge to participant, creating connection & empathy. Stories invite participation, allowing others to enter the discussion. Having too many paths only creates congestion and confusion. Consider this: Immediately after a 10-minute presentation, listeners only remember 50% of what was said. By the next day it drops to 25%, and a week later it is as low as 10%. What 10% are you focusing on?
- Co-Create – You don’t know what you don’t know! All of us occasionally overestimate ourselves and underestimate our weaknesses and competitors. We are convinced that our product or service perfectly fits the customer’s needs, but often times we are mistaken. Many of us never allow the customer the enjoyment of creating the solution with us. The very best listen intently to their customer’s voice and allow them influence over the product they will be purchasing. They forget that co-creation is loyalty and commitment.
Want to create more value with your best customers? Look outward, share a clear story & co-create!