— December 19, 2017
Recently, I read an article entitled, “The One Key Question You Must Always Ask A Prospective Customer; This simple (yet often overlooked!) question makes selling to your ideal clients or potential customers far easier and more effective.”
After the drum roll and the melodramatic scenario, the author stated: “What would you like to know most about ____________?” The idea being you fill in the blank with what you want the customer to talk to you about. The particular example, was, “What would you like to know most about content marketing?”
Now I get what the author is trying to achieve and the power of that question. Too often we focus about what we want to talk about and not what the customer cares about. This question is a terrific way to move the focus to the customer.and their interests.
But I think we can and must do much better in engaging our customers.
First there is an underlying presumption that is flawed in this approach. Really, we are masking, what we want to talk about in how we fill in the blank. In his example, the author was interested in talking about content marketing (the focus on what he wanted to talk about), so his question was presumptive, that the customers was interested and moved to know more about content marketing.
In reality the customer could have cared less. How would the author have responded, if the customer replied, “Nothing…..” Or, “I know all I need to know….”
Sometimes customers are just busy and distracted, they may want to know more about something, but not now. So they may give an answer just to get the sales person to go away.
There’s a bigger flaw in this approach. It assumes the customer knows what they don’t know and can articulate it. The reality is most often they don’t. Not because they are dumb people, but because they see no reason to change, or are unaware there may be better ways of doing things.
As a result, this question will seldom help you or the customer know that and ask to learn more. If they can, they may already be well through a problem solving or buying process.
Our customers are eager to learn and discover. Too often, however, they are just trying to survive the day to day, as are result they seldom have the opportunity to consider what it is they may like to know most about a particular topic.
This is the power of providing insight. It can help the customer discover something they should be curious about but were unaware of. It can help the customer say, “Gee, I had never thought of that before, tell me more.”
Focusing on identifying what the customer may not know, but should puts an interesting challenge on sales people. We have to really understand the customer’s current circumstances, strategies,, priorities, and challenges. We have to understand their current performance and areas where they might improve.
We also have to know enough about the markets, their customers, challenges and opportunities to suggest what they should be concerned about but may not be.
We need to focus on what the customer customer cares about, not what we want to talk about. Posing the question, “What to you want to know most about _______, ” is a good start, but helping the customer learn what they don’t know but should know is so much more powerful.