How comfortable would anyone be with a doctor who diagnoses before listening and understanding? Like doctors, sales professionals need to properly diagnose a situation before prescribing solutions. They must realize that any solution they propose is like a foreign element entering the body - it runs the risk of being disruptive and ultimately, being rejected. Without a proper understanding of the environment your "foreign" solution is entering, you can actually make matters worse.
Degree of Understanding
Your people demonstrate their understanding of a client's situation through the use of metrics. Like the doctor who checks body weight, body fat, temperature, cholesterol limit, etc. before intervening and then measures his intervention by reviewing these same metrics several months later, your people should do the same. What operational metrics can your solution impact? What is the baseline of these metrics before your intervention, and how long will it take before there is noticeable improvement? Next, you need to translate the improvement in these metrics to a bottom line return on investment that the CEO can appreciate. This return on investment should be reflected in these areas:
Increase in revenues;
Displacement of current costs;
Avoidance of future costs.
Your people can't just sell hopes and dreams in today's tough economic climate. Your interventions must be real and measurable. I leave you with a thought a consultant I respect shared with me: "If we can't express what we know in the form of numbers, we really don't know much about it. If we don't know much about it, we can't control it. If we can't control it, we are at the mercy of chance."
When you look at the proposals your people submit, how clearly are the metrics they will impact reflected? If there are no clear metrics, there probably isn't a clear understanding of what your solution will actually do for your prospect. The result? An emphasis on features or shallow promises.
Ask your people to slow down, understand the key metrics they can impact and reflect that understanding in their proposals.
Adrian Davis is a business strategist and trusted advisor for chief executives and business owners.