Recently I was reading Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax” with my six-year-old daughter. In the book, the character of the Once-ler says, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.”
It struck me that this concept is also applicable in the realm of B2B sales and marketing. How so? In order for a sale to take place, the customer needs to care enough to:
- Face his/her business problems.
- Investigate how to solve those problems.
- Invest their resources in a solution that can eliminate business problems.
If you’re in sales or marketing, it’s your job to inspire your customer to care about these things. Specifically, you want two key individuals to care “a whole awful lot.” The first person is a champion or advocate. This person recognizes that his or her company has a problem and is fired up about the idea of solving it (with the help of your company’s solution, ideally).
The second person is the decision maker. Often, this is the CFO or other individual on the financial team. This person holds the purse strings and controls the budget, and he or she is not going to sign off on an investment unless it’s clear that the solution will help drive growth and profitability.
If you want champions and decision makers who care, you must first care enough to consider how you’re going to provide value that will lead to more growth and higher profits.
Here are three things you can do to get customers to care:
1. Dig deep enough to find out what your customer’s problems are.
When you approach customers, frame the discussion around issues that are either causing them to needlessly spend money or keeping them from maximizing their revenue potential; these are two things they should care deeply about.
Pro Tip: Avoid beginning the conversation by talking about your offering’s features and benefits. The customer doesn’t care about those things just yet.
2. Assess the size of the problem.
When you’re ready to talk about the size of the customer’s problem, you need tools to help you quantify exactly how much those problems are costing them. Perhaps your customer is wasting money on unnecessary labor costs, or maybe your customer’s product has a unique application in a market they haven’t explored yet. Whatever the business issue is, a value calculator can be an immensely helpful asset to help you illustrate the size of the customer’s problem in dollars and cents.
3. Understand how and why your offering is the best solution.
If you’ve followed the two steps above, you’ve done a great job of getting the customer to care about solving a business problem. The next step is to get customers to care about investing in your solution specifically. At this stage, an ROI or TCO calculator is often an ideal way to show how and why your solution is superior to any other avenue they might pursue (i.e. leaving the problem unattended, purchasing from a competitor, or creating a homegrown solution).
As you go through this process, be sure to “qualify out” prospects that don’t seem to care. Too often sales and marketing teams waste time trying to collaborate with customers who just don’t care that much about solving their problems, or who are just shopping around with no intention of buying from you. Your true allies will be those who are invested enough to co-create solutions with you.
How do you get customers to care about their problems and how your offering can help solve them? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
[Image via B Rosen / Flickr]