The sole existence of almost all business technological innovation is due to the need to solve a customer issue or problem. From a proactive perspective, it is to improve the performance of the business by increasing revenue, margin, customer loyalty, or competitive performance.
The question becomes… how do we share a strong point of view and position our technology, innovation, or solutions with a customer while prioritizing their business? By working backwards from the customer’s business objectives and what they are trying to accomplish in their market, you can create a connection back to a solution set of technology.
Salespeople in the tech arena are immersed in the fascinating world of everchanging capabilities and leading-edge developments, and while we might get very excited by all of this, we tend to be eager to share our enthusiasm by talking about it with our customers. Unfortunately, not all our customers are quite so excited about blockchain, cognitive computing, or a journey to the cloud!
In a deal we were recently coaching for a client in the UK, the customer procurement team was pushing for a short-term enterprise agreement as an extension to address their forecasted cloud need for the next 12 months. Through coaching, the seller began thinking more holistically and aligned his thinking to his customer’s strategic digital transformation corporate initiative.
This led to broadening the conversation to the core business issues the organization was trying to solve through a digital transformation. By creating a strategic roadmap, they collaborated on how the seller’s technologies and services would not only deliver value and accelerate the strategic digital transformation, but also could directly impact specific business outcomes.
Feedback from the customer was, “This is exactly how we would like all of our partners to act.” In three short months, the seller’s organization went from a distant alternative to becoming the customer’s existing private cloud to their steering committee voting 19:1 in favor of awarding the business to the seller.
We engaged the business executives of the customer’s organization, mapped to their strategy, and leveraged the holistic capability of the seller’s organization to expand the stakeholders, value proposition, and most importantly… tie together the business outcomes the technology could drive for the customer to secure the win.
Remember, the key is NOT to assume the customer can make that correlation between technology and their business objectives on their own. Often, our minds as sellers get there more quickly than the customer’s because we have seen similar situations play out in multiple customer organizations. It is our role to enable them to mentally bridge the gap.
The question to ask ourselves is… how do the holistic capabilities of our organization enable the customer to do things, such as change their competitive edge in the market or open new revenue streams? If we work backwards from that starting point with the customer and make strong linkages to the technology, then those two (technology and business outcomes) absolutely support each other. It also enables us to have broader conversations with our customer at higher levels about their strategy, rather than just the details of the technology.
And this is how you create a sustainable executive competitive advantage!
Take a sentence from a recent customer presentation that starts with the capability of the technology. Reverse engineer the sentence so the statements lead with the business outcome the technology delivers, then complete the sentence with the technical info. Simply restructuring these words can be a quick path for putting the focus on where it should be – the customer’s business!