Despite all of the talk within business circles about customer-centered initiatives, the reality is that most businesses still take an inside-out approach to sales and marketing. In a study of senior business leaders, 85% agreed that differentiation solely on the traditional elements of price, delivery and lead times was not a sustainable business strategy (Beyond Philosophy. “Customer Experience: The Next Competitive Battleground,” p. 1).
From my experience consulting with thousands of businesses, I have learned this sad truth: even business owners who think they have a customer-centered sales and marketing approach often actually have one that is exactly the opposite. Here’s a simple test to determine whether you are really customer-centered: “What do the people throughout your company spend the most time talking about? The solutions you provide? Or the problems your customers face?” The answer will give you insight into whether the strategy you are using to differentiate your business will work.
Ask yourself this: Does your company sell a solution that’s looking for a problem? Organizations face three major challenges when they try to identify a prospect’s problems and provide solutions for them. One, your prospects might not be aware of nor fully understand the problems they have. Two, they might not share the problems they know they have with you until they trust you and they won’t trust you until they believe you understand their problems better than they do. And three, your prospects might not be aware of the costs associated with the problems they have.
Here is what you absolutely must understand — To overcome these challenges, your primary focus must be on the problems your clients and prospects face, not on your solutions.
You do this with a process that I call Building the Bridge™. The “Bridge” you build in this process is from your solutions to your market’s problems. I will be writing extensively about this over the course of the next few months, so start taking stock of where your go-to-market strategy is actually coming from and stay tuned.
Until next time, Doug
P.S. If you’d like to read more about how you can begin Building The Bridge, e-mail me and I will send you a white paper on the subject.