Looking at your dream clients through a glass darkly means having an imperfect vision of their needs, their problems, or what helping them with their problems might require. One of the outcomes is that you sometimes view their problems through your existing solutions, not putting forth the effort to improve your vision.
Your beliefs, your ideas, and your experiences are all very important. But they also make up your biases, and isn’t your biases that really matter.
You Are Selling . . . Not Buying
You run into trouble when your beliefs, your ideas, your experiences, and your biases start to bleed into what and how you are selling. You run headlong into trouble when your biases start to occupy the space where your dream clients needs, problems, challenges, and preferences belong.
You may not believe you are guilty of allowing your biases to dominate your needs analysis or your presentation, but I assure that they can—and that they do. Have you ever asked a line of questions designed to lead your dream client to a certain conclusion? Sure you have. Perhaps that line of questions was exactly the right line of questions to ask, and maybe that conclusion was precisely the right conclusion to both win you the opportunity and to succeed for your dream client having done so.
A couple of other outcomes are equally likely.
It might have been an acceptable outcome that generated a positive result for you and your dream client, but because you drove them where you wanted them to go, you may have missed the opportunity to create something even bigger and even better.
It might also be that what the line that you followed was so certain and so direct that it missed the mark for your dream client completely. It may result in losing an opportunity that you might have very well won had you not been so adamant about ending up where you wanted to end up. You missed the client’s story.
This can happen as you work through your needs analysis, as you work to develop a vision of the right solution, and as you build your story or presentation.
I Offer as Evidence . . . Your PowerPoint Presentation
This is the story of two PowerPoint presentations. The first is a text-laden, 85-slide monstrosity of a deck. It would win any client’s business–if they were evaluating it on word count or on its physical weight. Most of what occupies this slide deck is what the salesperson believed was essential to proving that they were the right choice among their competitors.
She threw the kitchen sink at them. She made the decision as to what was important and what the client should see.
Now let me describe for you another PowerPoint presentation. This presentation was 29 slides in total. It was broken up into four major sections. Nine of those slides were only images and no text. One slide was a three-minute video testimonial from a key account. The biggest value-creating solution, as it pertains to financial results anyway, was a single slide.
How on earth did this salesperson reduce their slide deck to such a small number of slides broken into so few pieces? She did the unthinkable: she asked her dream client what he would like to see in their presentation. Her client said that he would like to hear the company’s story, and that he would like to discuss the three factors that are important to her team and that are the source of her dissatisfaction.
This salesperson decided that what was important was what her dream client thought was important. So that is what she delivered—in the same one and a half hours it took the same salesperson that was handicapped by her personal biases and a the gigantic, equally-biased slide deck to match.
So where does this leave us? What is the takeaway?
First, you are selling, not buying. If you were buying your preferences, your needs, your desires would dominate the diagnosis and the eventual solution. Wouldn’t you want and expect as much? Why would your dream clients expect something different.
Second, your business acumen and experience is vital to winning and to succeeding for your client. It’s a big part of what your client is buying. But it is a big part of what they are buying only as it fits their needs, meets their preferences, and helps them to generate the business improvement that they are after.
Do you recognize that your biases and your beliefs can and do creep into every interaction you have with your clients?
Do you know when and why you are pursuing a line of questions? Is your outcome to force your dream client into a solution that you have in mind, or are you discovering your client’s outcome—or an outcome that you discover together?
Is your presentation made up of everything you want your dream client to see, to know, and to understand? Or, is it made up of everything that your dream client wants to see, to know, and to understand? Are these always the same thing?
How much do your own personal biases and preferences influence how you sell?
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