To Get Monstrous Results, Are Our Customers Prepared For Monstrous Change?

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I was having a conversation with  close friend this morning.  He was expressing frustration with a customer not moving forward on a particular deal.  At the height of his frustration, my friend said:  “We can have such a Monstrous Impact on the customer, why won’t they go through this  Change?”

As we drilled down, quickly we discovered the customer agreed the impact could be tremendous, but the change was also Monsterous.  Their reality was they were so focused on the day to day activities that regardless how compelling the benefit they could achieve, they chose to ignore it. 

The other day, I was involved in a similar conversation with another sales person.  She couldn’t understand, “we offer such superior value to what they are doing now, why won’t they change?”

It somehow seems illogical, if we can get a tremendous benefit for our companies, if we can manage the risks of the project, why not invest, even though it is a very big effort?   What’s keeping the customer from moving forward?

Customers, however, may see it differently.  It’s a natural reaction, customers equate Monstrous Impact with Monstrous Change!

The reality of our customers’ lives is very difficult.  Customers are time poor, they have too much to do, too few resources to do them.  Customers don’t have time to consider major initiatives or monstrous change.  To many, getting through the week, the month, the quarter is all they can see or do.  I don’t think I’m overstating it, by saying that most of our customers just want to get by.

Getting the “Big Things” done, regardless how compelling, is just not in the cards.  Stated another way, they are so busy fighting the alligators, they don’t have time to drain the swamp.

So how are we going to be successful?  We have to present our solutions in a context that fits their current reality.  We have to recognize they are fighting to survive.  We have to simplify, eliminate the complexity.  We have to provide leadership in showing a series of  little steps they can take to get Monstrous Returns.  Most importantly, we have to be there helping them take these little steps, assuring their success and moving them on to the next little step.

Our path to sucess is meeting the customers in their reality and showing them the little steps that can produce Monsterous Results!  Until we do that, we are spinning our wheels and frustrating the customer.

As a side note, there are two outstanding books that give great advice on dealing with this issue.  The first is Jill Konrath’s Snap Selling.  The second is Tom Peter The Little Big Things.  Both are valuable and insightful reads.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Dave, enjoyed your post. I remember an experience as a young IBMer, full of piss and vinegar — although I’m not sure what that means exactly. I wanted to make things happen and expressed my frustration with a key customer about their lack of action on a proposal to deal with a big and obvious problem.

    But the company was going through a tough patch and I wasn’t being very sensitive to that. Clueless, actually. He used that alligators/swamp analogy and fortunately didn’t feed me to one…

    I learned a bit more patience, helped with small survival problems and built a relationship in the process without really trying. When the enough of the alligators had been killed off, we got the opportunity to work on bigger and longer-term projects.

    During those months, however, other vendors disappeared because the company wasn’t buying much. Good opportunity management I suppose, but the customer remembered who stuck around and helped, so those vendors had no chance when funding was once again available. Sometimes loyalty does get rewarded.

    The solution to big problems may require complex solutions, but nothing is going to happen until the business leader(s) can find time to focus.
    Executives have to wait sometimes for the right time to make big changes. Reps need to size and time their solutions accordingly.

  2. Dave: I think the reasons you describe (“too much to do,” “not enough resources,” “just trying to get by”) for not acting on initiatives are smokescreens for the root issue: change means risk. And by not acting to solve a problem or capitalize on an opportunity, people are saying they’re simply not willing–or able–to take it on.

    One thing salespeople should (must?) do is to see that risk through the prospect’s eyes, and to help him or her break it down into manageable pieces. Often, a prospect doesn’t know what risks he or she faces–only that tackling the solution seems too daunting. The salesperson’s guidance is vital for risk identification. Few do it, because they’re trained to “push product,” and “overcome objections.” And bringing up risks in any discussion, when not done properly, is like shooting oneself in the foot. But Risk identification discussions are differentiators between good salespeople and excellent ones. They involve candor for both vendor and prospect. (There’s more on this in a blog I posted ROI Hype: Finance for Fools?)

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