William Gladstone, a nineteenth century British prime minister, is credited with saying, “Selfishness is the greatest curse of the human race.”
We’re not sure if he was right or not, but it certainly seems to be the case that focusing too much on themselves is one of the greatest curses of B2B sales processes.
All too often, when sales teams are outlining their sales process, they focus on what they are selling, who they want to sell it to, how they want to sell it, and how much they want to charge.
But something very important is missing from the discussion—the customer.
Sure, they may mention “the customer” on occasion when outlining their sales strategy, but most of the time, these firms are talking about an ideal customer, not a real flesh-and-blood person. They look at the products and services they offer and then imagine who would want those products and why they would want them. They then send the salespeople out into the field looking for those ideal customers . . . who may or may actually exist.
These firms have gotten things backwards.
Instead of beginning with themselves, they need to start by focusing on their customers—actual, living, breathing customers. Instead of starting with the product, they should look at the potential market. What do those people want? Why do they want it? How could the firm meet those needs?
When we’re being formal, we call the process of asking those all-important questions “targeting” or “segmentation.” And good targeting and segmentation are two of the key things that separate best-in-class B2B sales teams from all the rest. But in order to do good targeting and segmentation, you have to spend time focusing on real customers. You have to get outside the bubble inside your firm and see what is happening out in the marketplace.
Unfortunately, breaking out of the habit of focusing on yourself or your company’s needs is really difficult. It’s far easier to fall into one of the common targeting traps, such as focusing on the ideal customer. The express guide Recognizing Seven Deadly Targeting Mistakes explores some of these traps in more detail.
If you think your team may have been guilty of focusing too much on yourselves and not enough on the customer, this express guide is a great place to start. Once you recognize the wrong way to do targeting and segmentation, it’s much easier to headed down the right path.
Don’t let the customer go missing from your sales strategy. When you let real customers’ needs guide your sales strategy, you’ll be amazed by how much more successful your company can be.