Monday, September 15, 2014

What Do Your Customers Really Want?

Recently I had a well-intentioned discussion with someone.  The conversation was initiated by a request of a mutual contact.  The person who asked me to have the talk hoped that common points between me and this other person would make the conversation easier that it would have been for them. 

The conversation goal was to address a challenge and suggest a workable solution.  Seemed simple enough at the time.  After all, how hard would it be to have a helpful conversation?  It should have been a win-win situation.

I started with a true story.  I wanted to let him know that I knew that I understood the challenge and it was not just an empty conversation by someone who thought they knew everything.  The conversation started well, the approach taken was good, and he appreciated the heartfelt thoughts and the personal impact of the story.

What then was the problem?

What problems do most customers or prospects have with people (sales) that just want to help?

In my opinion the problem/challenge in this case was made worse and not better, because I made some assumptions.  Yes, I know the old adage about the word assume.  The personal impact story was a good start.  It created a bonding.  The person indicated that they appreciated the approach.  He uses the same approach with the people he works with. 

What I found out after our second conversation was that the conversation went bad, because one of the additional examples I used to make the point.  It was a third party story instead of a personal story and the person was put off by it.  I certainly did not intend it to be this way.  I was quite sincere in my presentation and just wanted to give an alternative example.

Lessons learned.

We can all take note of the point here.  People do business with people they like and are like them.  Personal stories help build a relationships.  What do “we” both have in common?  How do I know and what makes me believe that you understand my challenges and pains? 

We all want to be heard, and perhaps more importantly, understood.

We all know that we are supposed to ask questions.  What happens too often is we ask a few questions and then start in with a solution.  We make assumptions.  For many of us we have seen similar situations so often, that we go into an automatic mode of “I recognize this problem, here is the solution”. 

The reality is that it probably is the same problem we have seen so many times.  Something like inaccurate inventory, inefficiency of operations, missed or late shipments, management decisions based on old information, etc. 

When we deal with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions for a long period of time the challenges do seem the same and we try to put them into a solution category.  We deal in efficiency and the sooner we find a match between challenge and solution, the better.  So efficient.  So perfect.

The problem is our prospects and customers have trouble seeing outside the box when they are in the box.  They need to know that we understand and actually care that they find a successful solution to “their” challenge.  They typically have a lot more riding on the solution than simply more efficient operations.  Almost everyone would like to be more efficient.  Everyone wants happier customers. Happy customers are the ones that refer new business and come back again and again and are loyal.

Our customers and future customers need to know that we understand.  

They need time to digest and discover that the solution we see in our minds solves their challenges.  You cannot tell them it will work.  You and I need to ask more detailed questions that identify our common interests, needs and wants.  The solution then addresses the problems or it does not. 

No sales, just conversation.

The people we interact with want to communicate.  A sale is the byproduct of great conversations, not the purpose of one.
At Dolvin Consulting we are always learning and would like to take the knowledge journey with you.  We want to listen to what is important to you.  Contact us today so we can start our conversation. 

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