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A Customer's Crisis
is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Fear of failure is a more powerful emotion than the joy of success. Desires, goals, dreams and motivations all represent a problem when not achieved. All are sought after due to a sense of lack or scarcity mentality. All desires are a reflection of not having. The more your customer wants something, the more they'll have a deepened sense of not having.

There is no reason to change. There is nothing to seek. There is no reason to get something new and better when everything is perfect and hunky-dory. For most customers, life is perfect until they think about it. All changes and all calls to action for your customer is driven by fear, problems, inadequacy, insecurity, loss, disappointment failure, risks, liabilities and dissatisfaction.

"Let their problems be the fuel that propels you through the sales process. Remember it can be positive or negative. Positive problems are a tougher sell than negative problems. Teach your prospect that no problems equal no action," says Bill Caskey.

In-depth problem recognition and identification will consistently trump good problem-solving skills because it's more intimate and it requires a lot more trust and meaningful interaction. The customer puts more weight into your understanding and knowledge of their business problems than their understanding of your own product solution.

The more thorough and in-depth your analysis, investigation and identification of your customer's pressure points the less information you have to give, the less selling you have to do and the less objections you'll invite.

The proof is in the pudding; your problem analysis. So use your industry expertise and technical knowledge simply as a tool to get more information about your customer's most pressing challenges. All problems and solutions become more self-revealing when you remove and unpeel the hurdles and the barriers to the truth.

It is difficult to show customers the strength of your solution before you properly diagnose the weaknesses of their problems. Sales people are so trigger-happy to take their customers to the future (the promised land) before they take their customers back to the past, to the scene of the crime; customer's problems.

Product sellers spend too much time with reasons and not with causes. The reason why a customer might be experiencing problems in their business is because of inconsistent service. However, the real money is in finding the causes. The " causes" are the things that are causing the inconsistencies in service and is where you should start your problem discovery. Start with the "why." Reasons are surface level and in many cases superficial and non-quantifiable. Causes are deep, stressful, significant and eye-opening in many cases.

One of the hardest facts for the uninitiated sales person who is venturing down the problem evaluation process with their customer for the first time is that they represent "problems" in the eyes of their customer. The status quo, no matter how much stress they may be experiencing, represents for a lot of customers a place of safety, predictability and manageability. Many customers do not want to trade that for an unknown variable, no matter how attractive it may seem. So your solution and the process of change might represent even more problems than the problems of the status quo. If they do not change with your solution it is sometimes viewed in a favorable light that at least that is one less problem they have to deal with.

The reason some customers are in denial of their problems is because they subconsciously are attached to their problems. "Many of their problems come from or were created so as not to be solved," says Paul Ferrini. The bigger and the messier their problems are, the more likely they won't discover the real causes on their own. So be very thorough in your due diligence and don't rush the process. The act of solving the problem quickly or prematurely often prevents the customer from seeing that they're a big part of the problem. Also, solving a problem quickly cheapens your offering because it's assumed that you really don't get the full range of the customer's issues surrounding the problem.

A very big problem with traditional sales people is they solve the wrong problem for the customer. As in psychiatry, where the client rarely brings the real problem to the table, the same holds true in sales; customers rarely voice the real problem. Too often sales people confuse symptoms with problems, because they are more concerned with selling and getting their needs met, than meeting the needs of their customer and helping them better understand the full range of their issues.

Richard Farrell is President of Tangent Knowledge Systems, a national sales development and training firm based in Chicago. He is the author of the upcoming book Selling has Nothing to do with Selling. He trains and speaks around the world and has authored many articles on his unique non-selling sales posture.

Phone: 773-404-7915
EMail: rfarrell@tangentknowledge.com
Web: http://www.tangentknowledge.com