The Problem With Believing Your Customer Is Your Problem

The woman sitting next to me at the airport was upset. She supplies a product to a company that resells it on the web. She has had a meeting every quarter for three years with her customer. During every one of these meetings, she has introduced them to new products, and they have never purchased anything new. Her customer has spent $250,000 a year with her company for the last three years.

They Owe Me!

But the woman sitting next to me is upset. Her customer refuses to buy her new products, even though she has better products to sell them. Worse still, they haven’t updated their website, and all the products that she does sell them have new, better packaging. She needs them to change, but they won’t give her a meeting.

As she was complaining to someone from her team, she was getting more and more upset until, exasperated, she yelled, “They owe me a meeting!”

She is struggling because she is having trouble getting her customer to change (who hasn’t been here?). But her words and her attitude betray the fact that she believes that they need to help her. And this is where she has gone off the tracks. They don’t need to help her; she needs to help them.

She might want to understand why they haven’t bought any of the new and better products her company offers. She might also want to know why they haven’t updated their website with the new graphics she has provided them. She might also want to explore why they don’t feel like meeting her provides them with any value.

Where the Problem Lies

All of the outcomes she needs would be easier to obtain if she changed her point of view about where the problem lies.

Maybe she needs to stop pitching them every quarter and try to understand what they believe they need or why they fear changing products. Maybe she needs to understand what constraints are preventing them from upgrading the graphics on their website (Maybe she could even provide them some web support). Maybe she needs to understand their business challenges well enough to serve them in some other way.

But one thing is for certain:

Whenever you believe your customer is your problem, that belief is your problem.

You can’t change people. You can only change your approach so that you can generate a different response. The sooner this salesperson changes her belief about where the problem lies, the sooner she can get the results she needs.

Filed under: Values

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