This is the time of year that you need to strengthen your position with prospects and customers. One of the most beneficial activities you can do is attain deeper customer insight. This article will help you do that.
Knowing your buyer’s pain points is great. But don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s the most crucial buyer trait to understand. You need to understand how your buyer thinks. You need to know what truly motivates them and makes them take action. You need real, accurate customer insight.
Get to know your customer better than ever before by downloading the Micro Questions Guide. (more on Micro Questions shortly)
MTV (formerly Music TV before they dropped the music from the name and the station altogether) provides a great example of customer insight and buyer process mapping. Do you recall the fanfare and general hoopla surrounding MTV’s 30th anniversay? No? You aren’t alone. That’s because there were no celebrations – at least not televised. The folks at MTV know their consumers. Those consumers certainly aren’t the generation that put them on the map in the 80s and 90s. It’s transformed to the 12 to 34 (Millennial) young adult segment. When MTV considered the 30th anniversary spin on programming, they realized the anniversary held no interest for their primary audience. The anniversay celebrations were canned, and relegated to the network commissary. Perhaps this was disappointing for MTV, but it wasn’t about them. It was about the consumer.
You need to think like MTV. It’s not about you, or the way that you want to sell. It’s about your buyer. How do they want to be sold to? That’s what will move the needle.
Do you know your customer? Years ago the MacKay 66 was the holy grail of customer knowledge for sales reps. It gave you insight like car types, restaurant preferences, schools, and hobbies. Interesting info, but not the insight you need by any means.
Vince Koehler offered a Buyer Process Map (BPM) Template in his recent blog which is a great tool for charting customer insight.
The buying process should be mapped for each major buyer persona in your target customer accounts. This task can be executed by an individual, sales team, or even an outside firm. It can be a heavy lift and difficult to do when you are so close to the customer and prospect.
One exercise that can help is looking at the BPM from a personal level. Recall your last major purchase (home, car, refinancing a mortage). At some point you went from not in the market, to stimulated, and then ultimately you made the purchase. Think about your customer in that sense.
Below is a list of the 8 stages your buyer will likely travel through. Where do your current prospects stand?
- Not in the Market
- Problem Definition
- Preferred Recommendation
- Final Approval
Discovering the Benefit of Micro Questions
Remember the sales line “What’s keeping you up at night?” This is the kind of insight you want, but can’t often ask for directly. Instead, you need to either 1) already have this info, or 2) gather it tactfully with Micro Questions.
Micro Questions are small insights that you can gather piece by piece over time. Instead of asking blatant questions, you ask a series of small ones that get you the information you need. The key is to make it a habit to constantly update and refine your insights. The Micro Question Guide (click to download) will help direct your efforts. Here are a additional recommendations to get you on the right track:
- Leave no stone unturned – This is about more than simply being thorough. You need to plow through every phase of the BPM. List all the known issues and prospects for that phase. Then move on to the next one. A truly focused and exhaustive effort will make an extraordinary difference.
- Be systematic – Find a process that works for you when uncovering these insights. Use the BPM tool to organize your strategy, tactics, and results.
- Be intentional with your discovery – Each time you meet with a given prospect, plan in advance what one question you’d like to uncover. It could be as small as one trigger event that you want to learn more about.
- Be patient – Buyer mapping is not a “one and done” proposition. It’s a living, breathing thing. Think of it as a continual process which is dynamic and organic. It should be fluid and personalized – not canned by any means.
Customers have gotten smarter over the years. They’ve adapted to a changing landscape. Sales reps must do the same. Micro Questions are one way to achieve this. Don’t get left behind and stuck in an outdated sales rep rut. Use the tools and knowledge availab to you today.