You’ve heard the old idiom and song from the 1970s, “walk a mile in my shoes”. It’s about compassion and having empathy for others. I think that’s exactly what B2B buyers are looking for these days.
We’ve all heard about the new buyer. More connected, more informed, and more discerning about who they want to work with. They are also less interested in being “sold to”. They want suppliers that understand their business challenges and educate them on how to solve them. They want someone that understands the problems that they personally face each day when the alarm wakes them up in the morning. Don’t we all want suppliers that think about us all the time instead of themselves and their sales quota?
We focus a lot of our time and energy on content. Where’s the content? I need a data sheet, sell sheet, first call presentation…..an eBook, a white paper, proposal template……I need a Infographic, a slick sheet, a microsite, a blog post, a video…..and so on.
But what about context?
Context is what helps sales people empathize with their customers. It’s what helps sales people understand the customer’s top business priorities and their challenges.
Context is what helps sales people talk in the language of their customer and communicate customer value.
Context helps sales people offer solutions to problems that customers care about.
So where does context come from? It comes from close collaboration between sales, marketing, and product management and continual validation from voice of the customer feedback.
Marketers use customer segmentation to define a target customer profile. Marketers also develop buyer personas to describe the key stakeholders involved in the buying decision, their priorities, and their pain points.
Both of these marketing assets are incredible sources of context for sales people. This information can help sales people connect with their customers in a whole new way and have meaningful discussions about what problems and pain they can solve with their products and services.
Here are four simple steps to get started with contextual selling….
STEP 1 – SEE WHAT EXISTS. A lot of organizations have customer context buried in presentations in various repositories. Sales and marketing teams should inventory what they already have in place.
STEP 2 – FIND THE GROWTH. Identify an underserved customer segment where you might have short-term growth opportunity. Iterate what you have in terms of customer context and get it in reasonable shape.
STEP 3 – INTRODUCE SALES. Provide context to sales about the target customer segment and the buyer personas. Have them leverage this context to improve how them communicate with customers and articulate customer value.
STEP 4 – GET FEEDBACK. Ask sales for voice of the customer feedback. One thing is for sure, the context will never be perfect! Feedback from sales will help you improve your knowledge of customers and increase the performance of the entire team.
Start selling with context and empathy and watch your sales success improve.
What are your thoughts on contextual selling? Let us know in the comments.
About the author: Colm Lennon is the Founder of Haka Products.