“What do you and your team need to get better at this year?”
It’s a simple question that focuses the customer or prospect on the delta between their objectives and where they are today. They start thinking about the specific tools or skills they lack or that they feel are insufficient to reach their objectives. How do they get there from here?
Their answers will give you insight into whether and how your solution is relevant to their “delta.”
Here’s an example from a recent conversation (remember, it is a conversation, not a survey or interview) I had with a prospective client. Let’s say she’s the Chief Revenue Officer of a company that sells to insurance companies.
Me: To start off, what are the overall business priorities for your organization? And when I say organization, think about the highest level–your company or the division you’re a part of.
Her: Well, the first thing is probably improving customer retention.
Me: Great. Why is that a priority? I can assume a few reasons but want to make sure I understand clearly.
Her: Some of our biggest customers leave because they think they can do what we do in-house.
Me: Got it. Thank you. Given your focus on customer retention, what do you and your team need to get better at to address that priority?
Her: We need to have better messaging to rescue or win back customers who say they’re leaving.
Me: How big a problem is this for the company? In other words, if 10 is a game changer and 1 is “nice to have,” how would you rate it?
Her: I’d say an 8 or 9.
Me: OK, perfect. You mentioned customers leave because they intend to take over your function internally. Can you give me an idea of how that conversation goes? Let’s say you’re the customer who’s leaving and I’m you. In the customers words, what would you say.
There’s a lot more insight to be gained from this conversation, but finding out what she needs to improve to reach her goals is a key turning point that allows me to really see her perspective and focus the rest of the conversation.
Again, your goal is to get insight into whether and how your solution aligns with their “delta.” My approach is to disarm the other person and get them to lean in by starting the conversation with bigger picture questions. This signals that I’m diagnosing, not selling. That I’m interested in her goals and perspectives and I’m strategic, not just trying to hit my quota. Her answers also give me fodder to provider her with insights–to challenge whether that really is her biggest delta. (Turns out it isn’t.)
If you’re looking for a good place to start to better understand your target audience’s perspective, download my free Customer Re-Discovery Playbook.