I’ve been having an email conversation with a colleague about, “Why are sales people so product focused in their sales outreach?” We all know, at least I hope we do, that focusing on the customer, their issues/opportunities, and how we help them achieve their goals, is much more effective than pitching our products.
Yet, why do so many organizations fail to do this? Why do we still see so many sales strategies dominated by, “It’s really about me, my product, and achieving my goals?”
First, the reality, which people like me sometimes tend to gloss over too superficially, is that we work in companies and organizations that are, naturally, focused on what we do.
The inescapable reality is from the board level down, everything in the company is focused on the company—What products are we developing, what are our growth plans, what results are we producing, how do we beat competition….., the list goes on. It’s natural, most conversations focus on what we want to do to or with our customers, not on what we are doing for our customers.
As sales people, living in these constant conversations about ourselves and our companies, it’s difficult to shift perspectives when we go to the customer. It’s difficult to change our mindset from all the internal conversations about ourselves, to focus on the customer.
To maintain our focus on the customer, we have to distance ourselves from all the chatter we hear when we get back to our offices—-Endless pipeline, forecast, deal, account, territory and other reviews. Endless communication from marketing and product management about our products. Then all the corporate communications, focusing on the company, strategies, and performance.
Except when we are with customers, everything we hear and talk about is us, our company, and our products. It’s so easy to carry on with the same self centered focus when we talk to customers.
But if we are to be successful in engaging our customers, it has to be about them–after all—they face the same things in their organizations. Rightfully so, that’s all they should care about.
The rest of this post is really for sales management, marketing, product management, and corporate folks. (If you are a sales person, you are welcome to continue reading).
Peter Drucker had it right so many decades ago, “The purpose of a business is to create a customer.” Without customers, there’s no need for our products and services, there’s no need for manufacturing and development. There is no ability to generate revenue, as a result, investors have no interest.
Yet, 90% of our conversations have nothing to do with our customers. As a result, the customer becomes a distraction or annoyance (“Things would be so great if it weren’t for those pesky customer?”)
Imagine how our mindsets would change, as with all those in the our companies, if we started putting the customer at the center of everything we do–not just with sales or customer service, but in everything we do in the organization.
What if we started putting customer pictures and their stories in the halls of our buildings?
What if we invited customers to participate in product planning/review meetings, getting their perspectives?
What if we started meetings, particularly corporate meetings, reviewing a few customer successes, or, more importantly, some customer complaint/problem issues.
For too many of the people in our companies, the customer is abstract and very distant. As a result, it’s natural to focus on ourselves, our jobs, our companies. But our companies only exist because there is a customer.
Imagine how it would start to help sales in making everything we do about the customer. If our internal conversations were more about customers, then sales conversations would be more about customers.