Business development 2 October 2015

How finding problems can change your customer conversations

The main problem with voice of the customer messaging is that you won't be the only one doing it.
The main problem with voice of the customer messaging is that you won’t be the only one doing it.
As an entrepreneur, you may have beenledto believe your customer always knows what’s best for them. They, not you, are qualified to move their business forward. Your sales approach should conform to their interpretation of the market, not yours.

That’s basically the rationale behind voice of the customer? messaging, a so-called best practice that may be fuelling the perception that you are a commodity provider.

Research conducted by my company, Corporate Visions, in conjunction with Dr Zakary Tormala, a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, strongly suggests this is the case (and that a better approach exists more on that later). That’s due largely to some fundamental flaws in the voice of the customer approach, flaws that prevent you from creating the uniqueness and urgency needed to convince prospects to consider doing something different than what they’re doing today.

The main problem with voice of the customer messaging is that you won’t be the only one doing it. As a result, your competitors are going to receive the exact same inputs from prospects and customers as you. And, in all likelihood, theyll be responding to these inputs with capabilities that probably arent much different from yours.

This leaves you vulnerable to a few selling challenges. First, your prospect won’t feel the urgency to change. Theyll become indecisive and fail to see enough contrast between what you’re proposing and what they’re doing today. This will cause your deals to stall or, worse, fizzle out into no decision. And, should your deal survive, the discussion usually shifts to price instead of value, destroying whatever claim to uniqueness you might have and shrinking your margins.

Thinking as a marketer and salesperson, you need an alternate approach one that will assert your differentiation, generate urgency and advance your deals on the basis of value instead of price.

The experiment with Dr Tormala affirmed that the selling approach that can do all of these is one based on identifying and introducing your prospect’s unconsidered needs. These are the challenges or missed opportunities in your prospect’s current situation that make it unsafe and unsustainable.

There are three ways to think about incorporating this messaging approach into your selling strategy:

Consider three types of unconsidered needs

There are really three kinds of unconsidered needs you should look to identify in your prospect’s status quo situation.

(1) Undervalued needs are rapidly approaching trends or problems whose speed of approach or impact has been underestimated by your prospect and could threaten their most important business goals.

(2) Unmet needs are those your prospect doesnt realise they have because theyve papered over the problem with stopgap measures and other workarounds to temporarily conceal the nature of the pain.


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