How many times have you been told to understand your customer’s business? Well-meaning sales trainers and coaches often imply that, if you have a thorough understanding of the current points of pain within your customer’s business, then you will be able to sell more to that customer. While this may have some impact with capturing just preexisting demand, it is less helpful if you are inclined or have a need to create new demand for your products and services.
Here is where the cold business reality meets sales reality: you will never be able to understand your customer’s business better than your customer does. If you pretend that you do, you make yourself unnecessarily vulnerable. You are always just one step or one question away from being exposed. If your limited business understanding gets uncovered, any respect or sales advantage can quickly dissipate. Additionally, there may not be any flexibility in the customer’s current business structure and cemented plans to enable you to force yourself and your products and services into their preconstructed strategies.
There is, however, a better approach that positions you on a level playing field with the executives in your customer’s company. This approach instantly puts you into an intense executive conversation in which you have a real opportunity to create demand. Once you expand your thinking and conversation beyond the customer’s business and step into the customer’s world and industry, you have instantly broken through a knowledge barrier and stepped onto a new stage.
Focusing on your customer’s industry will enable you to discuss what could beand not be encumbered or limited by what is. It is precisely in this discussion that new and often unthought-of opportunities can be put on the table. Here, the sales professional’s thought leadership carries real weight, and his or her innovative ideas will be heard and considered. This is where demand creation can most easily be accomplished.
The reason for this improved potential is simple: your customer’s expectations are lowered when it comes to matters of the future. Often, the customer has yet to sort out his or her own views about what new opportunities are unfolding and how to capitalize on them to gain competitive advantage in the industry. In short, in the absence of preconceived ideas of potential courses of action, the sales professional has a legitimate chance of making a case for some new course of action. Here, sales professionals can differentiate themselves not only from their own competitors but also from other executives within the customer’s organization.
To be clear, a spirited conversation about exciting possibilities, unfolding because of new and emerging industry trends, can disrupt the customer’s current status quo. These new colliding and often conflicting trends will upset the way your customer is currently doing business and open up new possibilities. Once spotted, the race is on. The first ones to identify these trends and act will often be able to capitalize on them at the expense of their competitors. Here lies the spark of invention, the catalyst for doing something new and really different. This is when a customer looking for an edge will pause to listen to you. This is the home of demand creation!
To learn more about demand creation, listen to Revenue Storm’s recent Webinar,The End of Sales As We Know It.