Many sales people “show up and throw up.” In attempting to overcome every anticipated objection, they describe all the features and benefits of their service or company. “Our quality is impeccable, our on-time delivery is 99.9%, our pricing is competitive, and our customer service is second to none.”
Have you ever heard a pitch where someone admitted that their customer service was mediocre? Just imagine, “our quality is great, but our customer service is mediocre. I mean, we get back to you eventually, just not right away.” (It might be refreshing to hear this from someone at the cable company!)
I get why sales people do this. For starters, they have been trained to. Sure, most training programs talk about asking questions and uncovering motives. Some do a particularly great job in that pursuit. But most mainline sales training programs focus on the finer points of self promotion. It is also natural to talk about yourself when nerves set in—it is a self-preservation strategy, and at its core, a necessary one! For if you can’t “sing for your supper,” you will go hungry.
But as I have written about before, I believe there is a better way. Instead of talking about how great you are, you could talk to the customer about how great their business or idea is. You are not the hero, and in the B2B world, neither is your customer. The real hero is further down the line. It is the mother trying to grocery shop while simultaneously trying to manage her three rambunctious kids. It is the retired school teacher mowing his neighbor’s yard. It is the mom and dad nervously handing over the keys of the new car to their 26-year-old son (note: the age is not a typo, just an extreme anchor in case my kids read this in future years!).
The point is the hero is OUT THERE, outside your walls. Of course there are heroes inside our walls, and we can’t serve the ones out there without a cared-for team inside, but the focus begins out there.
What are the hero’s needs?
What does the hero define as impeccable quality? To spec, or something else?
When does the hero need what we produce? Do we measure to that, or to our internally-quoted lead time?
What does the hero need in terms of customer service?
Whose expectations are we living up to, ours or theirs?
It is not about us. It is about serving them. The real heroes.
Are we creating fans? (“Wow, it sounds like you guys are an amazing company!!”)
Or, are we creating customers? (“Wow, it sounds like you guys care about us!”)