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We Can't Understand Customers
Guest articles > We Can't Understand Customers
by: Sharon Drew Morgen
I often hear sales, marketing, and change management folks talking about ‘understanding the customer.’ But what, exactly, does that mean?
On the face of it, it’s a no-brainer. Of course it’s vital to ‘understand the customer.’ But it’s not so simple as just ‘understanding’ as there are so many facets to this. I must admit that when I hear folks using the term “understanding the customer’, it sounds to me as if they are seeking to ‘understand’ so they can sell or influence – using the act of understanding as part of a sales cycle.
Let’s take a closer look at the facets of ‘understanding the customer.’
First, there are so many things you can’t/will never understand, and yet there are several things you must understand if you are going to truly serve them.
There is actually a timing on this. There are certain things a seller must understand to ensure that the right solution is being offered and will fit. But that happens only when it’s time to place your solution, or ensure that your solution and the buyer’s needs fit.
SELLERS CAN NEVER UNDERSTAND
There are so many more things that buyers know and sellers can never understand… and don’t need to. For example:
We absolutely need to understand how a need fits with our solution. We absolutely need to understand all of the details the buyer needs us to know. But we’re spending too much time, too early, gathering specious or unnecessary data – not to mention that farther along the buying decision process the data will change.
USE YOUR EARLY CONTACTS TO HELP BUYERS DECIDE
Until now, you haven’t had the tools to help buyers do what they need to do first, before they get to the point when it would be necessary for you to understand them. First, they must figure out how to gather the appropriate Buying Decision Team members. They need to know how to determine if their existing vendors can help them (Sorry, but they must do this!). They need to determine how to choose a new solution, or how to ensure that a new solution would fix comfortably with whatever else they are doing and have in place.
But here is what we need to understand when it’s time – after the buyer has managed their internal, private, off-line decisions (usually political, or relationship based):
Sales is only manage a small portion of the issues buyers need to address in order to make a buying decision. We’ve never thought about their behind-the-scenes decision process before and we’ve inappropriately used the only skills we’ve had to sell with – understanding the customer.
But we can’t understand them – at least not until they understand themselves. Use Buying Facilitation? to help them understand themselves first. And THEN you can sell.
Check out Sharon Drew Morgen's new book: Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it.
Or consider purchasing the bundle: Dirty Little Secrets plus my last book Buying Facilitation?: the new way to sell that influences and expands decisions. These books were written to be read together, as they offer the full complement of concepts to help you learn and understand Buying Facilitation? - the new skill set that gives you the ability to lead buyers through their buying decisions.
Contributor: Sharon Drew Morgen
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