Probably the most important and fundamental element for virtually every sales professional, is to understand the priorities their customer has. Priorities in virtually any company typically relate to the business drivers and corporate strategy established by the executive management team, the chief executive officer, or even the board of directors.
Those priorities trickle down throughout the company into departmental initiatives. Once you understand their priorities and initiatives, you can figure out how your products could facilitate a faster time to resolution. Since their priorities are typically driven by executive management, they will always be funded projects with predetermined deadlines.
Here’s a good example of how corporate priorities can turn into revenue for a smart sales rep. A few years ago, the company I worked for had a corporate priority and requirement to automate the process of keeping track of our customers, managing information about each of our relationships with them, and streamlining the forecasting and other sales processes. This initiative was established at the president level and led by the executive vice president of sales. There was a twelve month deadline to find and implement a customer relationship management (CRM) application. If you were the sales rep supporting my company, and were selling a CRM solution, and knew about this priority and the associated deadline before any of your competitors, you would not only have a jump on your competition, you would also know that you had a very motivated customer with a very real compelling event. As a result of this priority, my company purchased and implemented a multi-million dollar solution within the twelve month target.
Another example where this worked for me was with one of my customers who had a corporate priority to improve compliance and reduce risks. They had failed an audit because they did not have tight control over who had access to their financial systems. As a result, they had a requirement to implement an automated access control security system to lock down their servers and applications to their “authorized” users. By understanding their priority, I knew this was a critical and funded initiative. Since I also knew the importance of the project for my customer, and my company had a viable solution, I became their priority so they could understand how I could help them solve their problem. Furthermore, I was in early to complete a proof of concept with our security solution which resulted in a multi-million dollar sale for me and my team.
Here’s some of the added benefits derived from knowing my customers priorities and the success we achieved with this sale:
- My team was first to the table to help my customer determine the success criteria for their project which was based on our solution. This made it much more difficult for our competitors.
- I was able to directly map our solution to the corporate priority which in turn made me much more relevant and facilitated my access to their senior executives.
- I was able to clearly determine the importance and timeline for my customer which helped me get the best resources to support the proof of concept.
- My knowledge enabled me to accurately forecast a multi-million dollar opportunity since I had a very compelling event and knew about my customers deadline.
- I did not have to offer special financial incentives to close the deal and was able to maximize the revenue that me and my team received.
- The success from this project along with the added benefits my customer received, greatly increased the credibility of me personally as well as my company which led to many additional product sales.
As you can see, If you focus your time and attention directly on understanding your customers’ priorities, you will minimize or even eliminate time wasted with individuals or projects that are not really important for your customer. Additionally, you will be able to become your customers priority and increase your sales.
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