It’s easy to lose sight of the customer when what you’re selling is so amazing! In my experience working with thousands of sales people around the world, the most common mistake sales people make is they literally forget the customer during their sales pitch. We fill our sales teams with so much product information and so many generic value propositions that when faced with a “live” customer, they drop into “throw-up” mode and start regurgitating everything they know. They literally forget that the customer is only listening because they hope eventually the sale rep will get back to something that matters to them.
The best sales people understand that the more they understand how their product or service impacts the customer’s ability to make smart choices in running their business (i.e. manage costs, maximize profits, pull cash levers, etc.), the more effective they will be. But understanding how our product or service impacts the operational side of their business means we have to understand how their business works. We need to know what their major expense categories are, what levers they have available to impact profit, and what levers they have available to impact cash flow.
Historically, industry or business segment information available to sales teams has been problematic at best. It is either too much, too little, or not the right information at all. The trick is to teach your sales team the key minimum questions they need to ask themselves and research in order to understand their customer’s business “good enough”. How do you help your sales team members learn new business segments and industries?