Just like in the 1992 bestselling book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, it sometimes seems as though people that buy stuff and people that sell stuff live on different planets.
Speak to most business leaders about their company, their strategy and their goals and you’ll get a raft of information. You’ll hear all about what the C-Suite think their customers expect from the company, what’s important, and the reasons customers buy (and continue to buy) from them rather than someone else.
However, if you speak – actually speak – with customers directly, you invariably get a whole host of different bullet-points. It’s as though they’re talking about a totally different company.
So why the disconnect?
A Better Buying ExperienceCompanies tend to focus on the product/service in question from a technical or application viewpoint. “Our customers buy XYZ product because we’re the only supplier that can offer feature A, B and C.” Or perhaps it’s that the value offering supports an official or de facto standard. Or maybe it’s because of the product or service offers pretty much everything that the competition offers, but at a cheaper price.
Speak to customers, however, and it often turns out that their reasons for buying were very different. Things like feature parity, price/performance ratio, standards support or ease of use are taken as a given: Customers expect every potential supplier to offer those things. It’s no longer a reason to buy one offering over another. Sticking all of that sort of stuff all over your website pleases no-one else but your product manager, or the programming/engineering team.
Many items on a customer’s “Reason For Buying From Vendor X” list focus on the buying experience. The expectations that the customer was hoping to have during the buying process, followed by their experience after they had bought. Customers are looking for a company to solve a specific need or problem that they have. They’re looking for an understanding – followed by pertinent, relevant information to their problem – from the company’s communication channels. They want someone to reply to their email within hours, not days, with the answer to their question. They want the product or service to do what it’s supposed to do, to at least the level that they’re expecting.
Why Do Your Customers Buy From You?Most companies don’t really know the reasons – the real reasons – why their customers buy from them. They think they know, but in reality they’re making assumptions. As a result, their product development, their sales strategy, their marketing initiatives and their communication plans are based upon incorrect information.
It’s no wonder that the company doesn’t understand why their new product isn’t selling. Your entire business value communication needs to be focused around what your customer is buying – not what (you think) you’re selling.
The solution comes in two parts. The first part is easy: Talk to your customers.
The second part is more tricky: Listen to what they have to say.
Don’t interrupt, assume or fill-in the gaps. Your customers will tell you exactly what you need to say and do to a) keep them as customers, and b) acquire new ones.
Just as important is that you should ensure that they also tell you what you’re not doing, or what you’re doing badly.
Your own customers – the people have already bought from you – can help you sell more. It’s simply a case of knowing how to ask them, and taking the appropriate action.