How do you stand out from the crowd when marketing your products and services? With all the marketing messages you see and hear every day, what stands out for you, what gets you to take action on something you hear today? I bet if you’re like me, you respond to messages that move you to where you want to go. Your clients want a message that is focused exclusively on their unique needs, hopes, and dreams. Over 70 years ago, Robert Collier shared in his seminal book on writing sales letters that you must enter your potential customer’s mind where the conversation is. You have to meet the customer where he is, not where you are. It applies in marketing, as well as professional sales. If you can piggyback your solution to their agenda there is a good chance you get the business.
Over the years, the word agenda has taken on a negative meaning for most people in business. It’s probably because many poor sales people have not learned how to understand what their clients are trying to achieve when buying their products and services. If you hope to stand out from the crowd, you must be able to get on your client’s side of the table, and the earlier, the better. You must become an expert at uncovering the client’s agenda during your sales process.
It’s fascinating to me with all the information available to us as sales and marketing professionals, we spend so little time really understanding our client’s motivations or agenda. I know several sales professionals who can tell me all the results that I can get from their services, but can’t tell me why their best clients bought their products. Many times, it’s not the reasons the sales people thought.
Here are several ideas about understanding your client’s agenda to help you become more effective at influencing others. If you answer the following questions before you approach your clients and you may be surprised how different people treat you when you call.
Is your product relevant to your audience? Does it help them achieve their goals? Does it help support their personal or professional agenda? If yes, you’re going to be on your way. If no, your sales challenge increases geometrically.
Does your product or service have an impact on your client’s life? When you respond to an offer quickly, it’s because you feel it will impact your life. Your agenda at the beginning is to get the results faster and with higher quality than you might think possible. If it’s cheaper, that’s OK, but if something helps you make the impact you want, you’re comfortable paying a higher price.
Does your product or service support what they already believe? I had a very successful mentor tell me that people can rarely try something more than 10% new. When we talk about new technologies, they are some new things based on proven technology. For many years, IBM has made it a point to make clients feel there was little risk involved in the solutions they provided. If you’re able to match up with the client’s expectations of your product, you are likely to succeed in moving forward as their provider for your services. If you can learn their expectations, you can share how you support their agenda.
Don’t believe me? Think about your last major purchase. Why did you buy it? Was it a fact based decision? I bet it was because it helped you achieve something you wanted. It helped you forward your agenda.
When people choose to work with you because you are supporting their agenda, they are likely to give you expert status in what you do for them. People want to know they have someone who specializes in what they do. Many smaller businesses struggle to get traction because they are unwilling to walk away from being a generalist. I can’t tell you how many entrepreneurs share that they want an expert to help solve a particular problem or challenge, but all they can find are generalists. It’s interesting because as you get more intimately involved in their agenda, the more likely they ask you questions about other areas of expertise your organization possesses.
If you take the time to understand your client’s personal and professional agendas, you move to the top 10% of the companies in your business. In many cases, that can still be a highly competitive position in the market. If you want to move to the very top of your field, you need to help your best clients co-create their agenda moving forward. On next week, I share several ideas that can help you create an extraordinary partnership with your clients by helping them create the future they want through working with you. See you then.