It’s a modern-day sales and marketing paradox: the explosion in the number of ways to communicate with customers hasn’t made companies and teams any better at actually leading customer conversations. In many respects, the problem is getting worse.
In my work with teams of varying sizes and across industries, I see companies struggling with their customer conversations. The costs include wasted time, eroded margins, missed opportunities, low win rates, and less-than-ideal customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Why do even experienced, motivated sales teams struggle? Organizational and psychological forces get in the way. I see five in particular that keep companies from leading and accelerating the buying process:
- Comfort. Any of us can settle into comfort zones—calling on the same people in the same roles, saying mostly the same things. We should be proactively bringing new insights and including different economic buyers in the customer’s organization.
- Complexity. Sales people often pitch complex solutions that require some education. However, technical jargon, specifications, and lingo lead to less understanding rather than more…and they don’t make teams look any smarter.
- Consistency. “We all need to get on the same page,” right? But it’s more common that your sales and service team members are saying very different things and sharing very different stories across opportunities.
- Coaching. Managers need to exemplify and coach to specific messaging skills if they want their teams to be more effective. That type of coaching is different from what is needed for, say, account management or product training.
- Culture. Many companies lack a culture that fully enables sales people to share insights, case studies, and “what works.”
During an SMEI Webinar on November 7, 2013, I’ll share the sequence of the prototypical buying cycle and where a new approach to customer conversations is most needed. I will also offer practical steps for addressing each of the five forces—which can help your company quickly reclaim those customer conversations.
Jim Karrh, Ph.D. is a consultant, columnist, teacher, and keynote speaker who helps clients Manage the Message. Jim is the founder of Karrh & Associates (jimkarrh.com) and a consulting principal with DSG (dsgconsulting.com). Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.