It dawned on me recently during a webinar when one of my co-panelists, the ever proper sales guru Jonathan Farrington spoke in his brilliant British accent,
“Sellers are arrogant”
He went on to talk about how many companies are doing the same things over and over – not changing on behalf of our ever-changing customers.
It caused me to wonder about my customers and the customers of this blog’s readers. You can answer for yourself -
Is your company arrogant?
Arrogance is a noun and the dictionary definition is,
-an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions. (Merriam Webster)
Some companies think they know best and do what they do because it always worked before. The difference today is that what worked before is not going to work tomorrow. Buyers have changed.
The way to know if your company or your sales team is arrogant is by your answers to the following six questions:
- Do you know all of your customers’ organizational charts and the politics within their organizations?
- What has changed since you began working with them?
- What are your customers’ strategic goals for the next 6 months to a year?
- Do you know what social communities your customers belong to online?
- Are you monitoring what they are talking about online?
- Do you ask them questions and then really listen to their answers?
Strategist Jesse Newton of Atlanta-based UserInsight posted in 5 Tips to Gather Truths from Users about ways to help identify the difference between telling you what people think you’ll want to hear and what they really feel:
- Listening alone is not enough
- You need to be able to read their face
- Judge their body language
- Cross examine statements that were made prior for comparison
- Ask the question again, but in a different way
I liken this to peeling back the layers of an onion, and learned how to do this when I became certified as a coach. What people say the first time you ask them something is rarely the real answer. It can take three or more variants of a question to get to the core issues.
In a world with most of us remotely communicating with customers, former customers, and prospective ones, we don’t have the ability to really read someone’s face or judge their body language – all the more reason to employ some version of video communication with your clients. It’s not the same as being there, but it is the next best thing.
You can also learn a lot from tone, word choices, and the change in how soon a client used to get back to you when you email or phone them. Sometimes a very subtle thing can hint to a bigger revelation if you just ask a couple extra questions.
You can ask, “Has anything changed since we last talked?” – since it is such a general question it often opens a customer contact up to telling you more than you even asked for.
Also try, “What’s going well? What is in need of improvement?”
Make notes when you receive answers unless you have a perfect memory - one critical hint could close a deal for you.
Until you really know what your constituents and customers think, you cannot prescribe the right offerings for them. You can throw at them what most of your clients like, and arrogantly assume this will work for them, or you can talk with them and hear what is going on in their industry and from their own communication on social networks.
The amazing thing about listening socially is that you may just stumble into a sales opportunity or two by doing this. Recently a reader to the blog did, and it turned into a sizable piece of business – just by seeing what a frustrated former client was sharing online. It was not confidential, and it was the voice of frustration. They proposed an idea, and the frustrated buyer loved it.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I've been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.
Lori Richardson is recognized as one of the "Top 25 Sales Influencers for 2013" and one of "20 Women to Watch in Sales Lead Management for 2013". Lori speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside and outbound sellers in technology and services companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog and the “Sales Ideas In A Minute” newsletter for sales strategies, tactics, and tips. Increase Opportunities. Expand Your Pipeline. Close More Deals.