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Earning The Right To Be A Value Creator
Posted on April 4th 2012
Yesterday, I wrote about Value Creation. One reader raised an interesting point in a discussion on LinkedIn. He said his customers really value his approach in value creation. They saw it as a differentiator and is was important in differentiating himself from others. But he went on to say that he didn’t get the same positive response from new prospects.
This is a great issue, it’s one that impacts anyone who is “Challenging” their prospects. I think the problem is that we have to “earn the right to Challenge or create Value.”
Challenging must have a foundation built on trust. Absent that, it’s arrogance or insensitivity–even though you may be right. Think about it, what’s new about approaching a prospect in a provocative way—ho hum, what’s new! Everyday, customers and prospects are deluged with ever escalating volume (figuratively and literally) of “messages” or “pitches.” They are bombarded with astounding offers and “miracle cures” from people they don’t know.
Think from the customer’s view, “Here’s this person I don’t know, someone who doesn’t know me. They don’t know my business, they don’t know my priorities, they don’t understand what I am trying to achieve. But they already have the answers?!? They are already pushing me about how I need to change my business!”
Customers want to be heard. They want to someone to listen to them, to understand. Absent this Challenging is just another form of pitching–it becomes one size fits all, not an opportunity for the customer. Too often, we see the “Challenger presentation,” it’s the presentation marketing has carefully researched and constructed, the one that sales people have been trained in how to deliver, the one that’s provocative, interesting, but lacks any understanding of the customer. It may be tuned to a “persona,” but customers are not personas, they’re people (Don’t get me wrong, I believe in personas, but they are a starting point, not a destination.)
Customers want to understand your intent. Barriers are high, rightfully so. They’ve experienced too much from sales people just looking for an order. They’ve seen too much “me thinking” from sales people.
Customers want to understand that you “know your stuff.” More importantly, they want to know that you “know their stuff.” They want to know that you really understand their business, that you really understand what they are trying to achieve and why. They want to make sure that you are aligned with that, that you can bring ideas that will help them achieve their goals–or that you have a context in which to get them to think differently.
Customers want to know that you are trustworthy, we have to earn that trust.
Earning the customer’s trust doesn’t take a lot of time. In fact, you start establishing trust through your very first interactions with the customer. (Read my friend Charlie Green’s stuff–it’s fundamental to your success!)
Value Creation is critical! Challenging our customers creates great breakthroughs! However, before we challenge, before we create value, we have to first earn that right.
Have you earned the right?