While sitting down over a bowl of oatmeal this morning, I had a deep thought…well, deep enough by my standards to write a post about it. I thought about conversations I’ve had recently with customers and peers about their frustration with prospects and customers. I can summarize their frustration in the statement, “These customers won’t share enough information with us, and they won’t help us gain access to other key people in their business.”
Sound familiar? Whether you’re a sales coach, a senior leader, or a field sales executive, you’ve probably heard something like that. Maybe you’ve been the one saying it…. But if we’re to be truly customer-focused…if we’re really going to put ourselves in our customers shoes, we’d be asking a different question. We should be asking, “Why would they give me this information that I need? Why would they make that introduction to so-and-so? Have I earned that much of their trust?”
If we’re answering that question of ourselves honestly, I am willing to bet that we’d say more often than not that we haven’t earned enough of their trust yet. If you were in the customer’s shoes, would you give that extra bit of information to help a salesperson make a sale? Would you make that introduction between a seller and a key decision maker or influencer? What assurances would you need from the seller in order to feel comfortable enough to open up a bit more?
As sellers, what assurances can we give? Do words matter? Do deeds matter? Can we stretch the truth or be less than candid with a customer about our company’s capabilities and still expect the customer to be open with us?
Being honest, we should all say, “No,” to that last question. If we want customers to break down barriers for us, then we must first break down the barriers that we put between us and them. Be candid. Be competent. Ask for more from the customer only after you’ve shown them that you have their best interests in mind. You can’t fake that. They’ll see right through you. And up the barriers will go, once again.
If you are on the same page with me, feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this post at your first chance. I’d love to hear from you.