B2B Sales: Closing the Gap on What You and Your Customer Cares About
What does your customer care about?
There is a huge chasm between customers and our own sales and marketing initiatives. This is nothing new, yet it’s what keeps us from connecting with our customers and prospects.
The chasm causes our customers and prospects to shut down, ignoring our best efforts to engage them and sell them something (you can begin to see the challenge with that statement).
The problem is pretty natural, but it keeps us apart. Simply stated, we care about what we care about and our customers care about what they care about.
Until those are aligned–until they are the same–there is no reason for engagement. There is no reason for the customer to talk to us or pay attention. There is no reason for the customer to buy.
Yes, every once in a while a customer or prospect crosses over to our side of the chasm. They are well down their buying journey. They’ve defined what they want to do, they’ve done their digital research, and they’ve narrowed down and figured out (or at least they believe they have) what they want to buy. Now, late in the cycle, they want to learn more about our products, services, and prices to determine whether they should buy from us, or one of the other alternatives they are considering.
If there are enough customers doing this, and if we win enough of those at prices and margins that are acceptable, then we can achieve our business goals. After all, that’s really what we care about.
The problem is, in most organizations, this is never sufficient to achieve organizational goals. We have to go to the customers’ side of the chasm to create demand. But we have a huge disconnect.
In going to their side of the chasm, we haven’t changed what we talk about or how we engage. We continue to talk about what we care about–our products and services–trying finding enough people willing to buy them to allow us to make our numbers.
I look at the messages coming across my desk every week. They are full of people saying, “Here’s what we do and what we sell…” I look at the marketing and sales materials of clients and others I encounter. Millions of dollars invested in “here’s what we do and what we sell.” Yes, some of it is masked. It’s positioned in terms of, “here’s what we do and what we sell to financial services, to healthcare, to manufacturing.” Alternatively, “here’s what we do and what we sell to CFOs, CMOs, developers, manufacturers, sales.”
But the customers don’t care about what we care about. They don’t care about our products and services, even presented in the context of their industry or function.
Until we figure out what our customers care about and start talking about those issues, there will always be a chasm between us.
Our customers have different goals than we do. They want to grow their businesses, they want to serve their customers, they want to beat their competition, and improve their business results. As human beings, they want to be successful, they want to have sanity in their lives, they want to enjoy what they do and contribute to their organization, they want to grow, and they want to be successful. They may want to get their boss off their back, get a promotion or bonus, or even keep their job.
Until we discover what our customers care about, there will always be a chasm between us.
What are you doing to cross that chasm?
Dave has spent his career developing high-performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. As a consultant, Dave is recognized as a thought leader in sales and marketing, new product introductions, and strategic partnering. He has researched, written and spoken extensively on these topics. Dave has honors degrees from the University of California at Berkeley with a BSME and from UCLA with an MBA. He speaks frequently on business, sales, leadership, and related topics. He is featured in publications including Selling Power, Forbes, and the Wall Street Journal.