“I know I need to be unique and different when talking to customers; but I don’t know how?”
I had just finished running a sales training session for a group of major account reps, when a colleague came up to me and very quietly uttered the above quote. He was clearly embarrassed, lost and distraught. It got me thinking: if he was willing to sidle up to me and admit this distress; how many others were feeling the same but were too shy or embarrassed to come forward to talk about how to address it?
The idea of providing unique insight to your customers is at the forefront of every seller’s mind, due largely in part to articles like HBR’s Provocative Selling and CEB’s Challenger model research. In fact, CEB’s research shows that 53% of the impact on the customer’s loyalty had to do with the customer’s sales experience. What differentiated the winning seller was that he or she:
1. Offered unique, valuable perspectives on the market. What customers really care about is information and insight about their business, not what the supplier is peddling. In other words: will the customer appreciate the sales call itself, even if they do not buy?
2. Helped navigate alternatives. As modern marketers, we should be out in the field with our sales professionals, hearing the language of the customer, understanding the buyer’s journey so we can take that back and create materials that will support our sales teams in their quest to provide unique insight. That way, when a buyer begins their journey, both Marketing and Sales are on the same page when it comes to providing value and a unique experience to the buyer.
3. Helped avoid potential land mines. When I have this discussion with sales, quite often I get the response that it’s Marketing’s job to provide them with that unique insight. WRONG. Who knows the customer better than YOU, Sales? Who interacts with the customer every day, learning about their industry, their organizational structure, their personal goals, the pitfalls of their purchasing/legal teams? Who can makes those connections between what other customers have done to achieve success and the customer you are trying to woo?
4. Educated the customer on new issues and outcomes. As sales professionals, we are the subject matter experts on our accounts. We know what has worked well for customers just like them and how our solutions can help them grow their business. We have the power to challenge our customer’s way of thinking, because we’ve seen it all before with our other customers. It’s our job to feed that information back into Marketing so they can craft the messaging and materials to support that insight.
Providing our customers with unique insight that challenges their status quo is the responsibility of BOTH the marketing and sales teams. As a first step, get together and review what your customers say made them buy from you. You may be surprised and delighted by what you hear!