Have you ever noticed that when a salesperson wins an opportunity how eager they are to discuss how their skills and experience were critical to the win?
Yet when they lose an opportunity, more often than not, it was because of price?
The fact is customers seldom make a purchasing decision with price as their number one criteria. In fact, customers don't always choose the cheapest solution. What they are really telling you is that the value of your solution is what was rejected and not the price. Value can be defined as the benefits of your solution minus the actual costs, which is: Value = Benefits - Costs. So if a prospective customer finds that the benefits of your proposal outweigh the costs, they will see value in your solution and you are more likely to secure the sale.
If you are just asking a series of questions specifically focused on what features they may want in a system, you may gather enough info to go away and produce a quote. However, you've done very little in adding value to the customer. If, however, you truly interview a customer to understand their business and their communication needs, you will be in a better position to assist them in overcoming some of their business issues, or even in helping them find issue they didn't know they had.
There are three simple, but powerful, questions that you can ask. These questions will help the customer identify some of their business issues that can be improved with better communications.
1. Tell me how your business communicates with its customers, suppliers and with your employees.
With this question we are trying to gain an understanding of all of the methods, tools and devices the customer is currently using and what issues or limitations these current practices may be causing.
2. Which of the following communication profiles does each of your employees fit into?
By segmenting the employees of the company into a communications profile we gain a better understanding of how the individuals operate and how we may assist in helping them be more productive or in a position to respond to customers quicker.
• Executives/management – These are employees that are at their desk for about 40% of the time, roaming around the company 30% of the time, and outside of the company for 30% of the time.
• Team workers – Typically comprised of employees that collaborate on shared projects, they are likely in the office 70% of the time but out of the office for the remaining 30%.
• Office workers – These are typically the business’ on-site telephone operator, helpdesk employee, and other operational roles that are in the office all day and at their desk for 85% of the time.
• On-site roamer – IT staff, security or on-site maintenance workers that are in the office but away from their desk 80% of the time. They often work in a shared office.
• Mobile professional – Sales force, technical field representatives or consultants that are likely to be away from their desks 40-60% of the time.
3. Let's identify and evaluate all of your current communications costs
This exercise is about helping you identify where you may be able to reduce the customer's costs. You want to know about their communications costs, such as what do they spend on their mobile phones, conference bridging, land lines, LAN and LAN access, wireless, and even travel.
These three simple questions will assist you in gaining a deeper understanding of the customer’s business and their requirements. It will help in identifying where you can assist them in satisfying their customers, improving employee efficiency and reducing costs, things that will be of benefit to the customer and increase the value of doing business with you and your company.