Listen and Act: Business Objectives

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Many sellers ask their clients ‘what are your business objectives’ – but don’t truly pause to understand the impact of those objectives and how the client wants to drive those iniatives forward.

We get so tuned into hearing ‘red flag’ words tied to our solution that it is easy to go from point a to point c when diving in with clients about ‘business objectives.’

  • In a previous role I was put in the position of selling a technical solution and was coached to simply build value and drive the sale with asking about my client’s business objectives.
    • This in theory is true – understanding the current state and their goals moving forward helps connect client with solution so you can work together to transform their business.
    • The problem? We were trained to leave the discovery at that question. It was meant to show that we were ‘consultants’ and able to discuss ‘business problems’ but it always lead as a doorway to ‘fishing’ for specific answers to pivot back to our product features.
  • In other words – the concept behind the question was good – but lacked the genuine curiosity and focus to align with customer need.

Example: Objective – we want our website to allow for easier access.

Selling a solution with a portal – I could infer all sorts of ways we could help (secure login, reducing cart abandonment, analytics)…and at first I would jump to that one feature or assume I understood their objective…

The problem is that I didn’t have all the details and that rush approach prevents you from truly building value and making the best solution recommendation for your product.

FOCUS on HOW your customer sees the business objective.

  • dive into their current state
    • What bottlenecks, what is working, how does your current state align with future business objectives this year and beyond.
    • Ask questions and be genuinely curious
  • A colleague recommends that you ask the client to tier the pain points and future state goals in relevance of immediate importance. This is a great strategy because it shows you are problem solving with the client and also you aren’t rushing to pitch something that they are not planning to budget for until next year.
    • As a consultant this is an opportunity to bring your expertise to the table to ensure their priorities are correctly aligned with their business needs.
    • In my previous role many clients would place compliance or security on the backburner – instead budgeting out for other software or rebranding their logo…but at the end of the day the security and compliance was a more pressing need. It wasn’t a nice to have – but a need to fix and it took the courage to hold the customer accountable.
      • Don’t be afraid to question your clients motives in a respectful way – showing your industry knowledge and ‘telling a story’ of similar case studies with other clients.

Listen to their objectives and take time to really dig in.

I’ll admit I have a list of discovery questions by my desk to help me remember what to ask on each call, but that list is not a ‘checklist’ as much as a conversation starter.

Don’t ask questions just to check off boxes – ask them with meaning and truly listen and be willing to dig deeper as needed.

Your goal is to HELP and HOW you can do that is by listening, pausing to reflect, asking questions with genuine curiosity and partnering with your client.

What are your strategies here?

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