Stop Looking at the Customer like a Problem
In the trainings I give to sales teams, I frequently remind them that “we are not product developers— we sell what we are given.” You cannot sell what you don’t believe in true, but sales expertise lies being able to take the product pitch and tailor it to anyone and that anyone’s objections. In the field, you will always hear product feedback from customers who want the product tailored exactly to their specific (and oftentimes very niche) needs. The art, so to speak, of being a great sales person is to help that person see that they don’t need a customized version of their idealized solution, but rather that the solution they want already exists… and you have it.
And now I’m about to contradict myself.
I recently realized that this concept is tried and true, well and good, BUT its one suited for a particular level— the level of an employee.
A couple of months ago, I was in a heated discussion with a client regarding a pretty significant feature change to their CRM system— after a year long deployment and countless hours struggling to digitize workflows that had never been digitized before, we finally had a working system which everyone knew how to use. Everyone knew how to use it so well… that they now had opinions on how it could be even better. During my tour of the fully deployed system, the client interrupted my victory lap to request what essentially was a complete overhaul to further reduce frictions for users. Working in another timezone (*cough* 4am) and a bit annoyed with being asked to play telephone on feature requests for someone else’s product, I told him that this was out of scope and also that I wasn’t “going down a rabbit hole for product development.” He thankfully got another call from a high-level executive and the conversation was shut down.
Two cups of coffee later and that’s when it dawned one me… “Crystal, you idiot.” Why hadn’t I suggested that we, my company, custom-make him an app perfectly suited to all of his specs, digitizing all his company processes exactly how he wanted them without any of the UX frictions we had been encountering all year? Rather than struggle through facilitating countless meetings with the current software company to change a UX they had already agreed upon and were married to while justifying the reasons, and then ultimately wait months or more for development?… why not bypass all that effort and earn more revenue for my company, while ensuring a happy customer?
It was a massive shift in mindset. In that moment, I became a software saleswoman…. but even more importantly, I took bigger step toward thinking like an entrepreneur.