As readers of this blog know, one of the biggest, if not the biggest, drivers of High Regret is conflicting objectives across the buying team. We’ve seen this consistently through the years and it continues to be a problem. Our latest study on departmental purchases revealed the same issues (for clients, here is a link to a hot of the presses document that explores High-Quality Deals in this situation).
I talk about this often on client calls, but a recent call helped me learn something that I think will help all of you.
After discussing this challenge, the client basically said (paraphrasing), “We have a step and field for our sales process to capture the customer’s objective, but we often leave it blank because they can not tell us.”
Hearing that was a light bulb moment for me. The feeling of conflicting objectives may be because no one knows what the objectives really are or they are so broad and nebulous (“Improve the customer experience”) that they are almost meaningless.
In brainstorming this, we can up with an idea. This client is going to go to their customer advisory board and ask those customers what their objectives were for their projects. They will use that to build a short list of the most common objectives. Then, when engaging prospects, instead of asking what their objective is, they will guide them, “For our most successful clients, these were their objectives. Do they align with yours? How would you rank them? Any to add”).
Instead of a blank slate discussion, it becomes more of a focused dialog.
That was exciting for me. Then, in discussing with colleagues, we dove deeper and started thinking about other problems with objectives. The nebulous thing. We came up with a formula (that we need to test) that is basically oriented toward “We want to achieve X outcome to solve Y problem.” For example, “We want to reduce the number of clicks to order to 3 or less in order to reduce our abandoned shopping carts.” Or “We want to increase quality response rates through personality based profiling to address gaps in our top of the funnel pipeline. Those are both quite specific and clear.
This will also help with gaining consensus. When things are broad and general, it is easy to have passive aggressive responses. With clear more precise goals, attached to problems, productive discussions can be had. You can gain clarity on the problem. You can gain clarity on the desired outcome. And you can build consensus through clarity.
You might not be able to get that specific but connecting a problem with a goal adds clarity (they only missing piece of the stool is the solution approach to achieve that outcome–but that is the product/service/solution being proposed.
We need to look at this closer, but I’m pretty excited about these ideas and think they will help with the conflict and consensus challenges. Give it a try and let me know how it goes.
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