Is there anything more important than understanding the customer’s “pain”?I don’t think so! Do you have product/service/capability to eliminate that pain? If not, you’re spinning your wheels; but for the sake of this manual, let’s assume you do have the solution. This part of the process can be fascinating but difficult, because the customer often won’t be clear about his own pain-point! He could even dismiss your solution out of hand, even though it’s the best thing since sliced bread and it solves his problem like nothing else could.
Now you must get the customer to fully understand what his pain-point truly is.This’ll make the path forward so much easier. The customer is excited now because of the epiphany he’s just experienced; his eyes are wide as quarters and he’s looking at you like you’re Albert Einstein.
Now that you and the customer are in agreement about what needs to be solved, it’s time to focus on what the end use of the product-or service-application will be and whom the end-users are. Keep in mind that the customer may not be the end-user.
Next step:The value proposition is key to understanding howyou’re eventually going to price your product or service. The value proposition is a promise of added benefit to the customer. It can apply to the entire organization, parts thereof, or their customers.
Now it’s time to focus on your competitors and your customer’s competitors. You never want to underestimate the competition; their purpose it to take the business away from you and leave you reeling. If you’ve done your due-diligence research, you should already have a lot of information about this; however, you still must confirm what you think know with your customer. You never will have enough intelligence about the competition: information can be difficult to come by—you can even be arrogantly overconfident re your competitive position. If you do not have good competitive intelligence, you may put too much emphasis on price. Even in a commodity type sale, price may not be the most important consideration.
There are also times when the customer is also a competitor. Although vertical integration (when a company chooses to do everything themselves) is not as common as it was years ago, there are still companies preferring to keep complete control over their products and processes. They’ve made the decision to use their own internal capabilities, making the sale a 20,000-feet mountain to climb. Keep in mind though—if they’re talking to you,you’re still in the ballgame. Don’t shy away, directly confront this company-internal elephant in the room. You must gain an understanding of what will move them to switch over to you. It’s there somewhere—find it!
Understanding each other is the ultimate goal. When the salesperson and the customer are in complete sync, 100% totally understanding each other, the customer may actually assist the salesperson in the selling process with his colleagues. Before LAUNCH, that phenomenon was achieved far more randomly than without LAUNCH. LAUNCH increases the odds you’ll achieve total understanding with your customers, which will allow you to start agreeing with everything they say, while making slight corrections to their statements, for example, “You’re correct, but let me add . . .”
A small but important point: you never want to be the “smartest person” in the room. The customer is always the “smartest person” in the room. Your job is to help to make the clouds disappear and the sun shine on your solution.
Before any meeting, write down your goals and objectives. Then use them as a tool to measure your progress in the meeting.
You never want to badmouth competition; however, if the customer is badmouthing them, don’t interrupt.
Don’t assume anything, understand everything!
Your influence will increase proportionally as your customer senses you understand him. When you notice this phenomenon happening, give him the credit by thanking him for being so perceptive.
Your follow-up after the sales meeting may be more important than the meeting itself. Summarizing all of what was understood and agreed to is paramount to closing the sale.