At this year’s FPDA/ISD Joint Industry Summit, Joe Ellers spoke on what customers really care about, and he challenged attendees to try and get inside their clients’ heads. Ellers explained that one of his favorite things is to go out and make customer calls with salespeople.
“I get to get out and actually talk to some real customers. And then I get to hear what the customers really saying, not necessarily what the salespeople tell me they’re saying. I get to hear it from them,” he said.
Ellers said that before they arrive at an appointment, he likes to ask the salesperson a series of questions, such as:
Exactly what do these people do?
Who are their customers?
Who are their competitors?
What’s their fiscal year?
What’s their planning cycle?
What are two or three things they’re actually trying to accomplish this year?
What are their corporate goals?
Ellers explains that the vast majority of salespeople don’t know the answers and generally give him a puzzled look. His point is that most people don’t wake up every day hoping someone comes to sell them something. But they do wake up with a list of problems, a list of goals, a list of key metrics that they’re held accountable for — and that they’re focused on. By digging down and finding out those types of things, a sale becomes easier, because the goal is problem solving. What’s more, the customer is generally thrilled to discuss their problems and answer the types of initial questions he lists.
In general, Ellers said that many companies have similar goals, including:
• Reduce the price of components they’re buying
• Enter new markets
• Acquire new customers in existing markets
• Add features or reduce costs on the products they make
• Increase sales to existing customers
• Reduce energy costs
• Reduce health, safety and environmental concerns
• Reduce inventory costs
• Reduce disposal costs
If you can appeal to these sorts of things, a company will be more likely to purchase from you. But the best way to figure out which of these things are most important? You have to start off by asking the question.
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