by Eric Stavola
Ever do as I do and Google nonsense late into the night? Recently I was late-night Googling and came across an article that stated Fortune magazine released its first list of top 500 companies in 1955, and of that list of 500 companies only 61 are still in business today. That’s a relevance rate of only 12 percent. Please don’t check my math, just go with it, but the key here is relevance — 439 companies stopped being relevant. This concept of relevance and our industry keeps coming to mind.
As a copier dealer today, are you relevant?
I recently meet with a longtime hardware customer and asked him how relevant I am and what we do for his business. His response was priceless:
“I’m glad you’re sitting down, but don’t take my comment as negative because I only saw you as a printer provider before and I am sure there are cheaper ways for us to print. But that is if I only want the printer to print. I would say before this conversation you were insignificant to me.“ The conversation that changed his view of our company and me was a simple business conversation about impact and outcomes.
By focusing on what was impacting his business and business outcomes versus talking about products or services, I become more relevant. His response was impactful: “Now I have a high level of interest in what you can do for us. If your MFPs can integrate into designed information workflows and your services stack can impact our business, then I would like to know more about that.”
Two Keys to Relevance
Talk about Impact. The more I get our reps to focus a conversation with potential or existing clients around what is impacting their business, the more relevant we become. If you think about it, everything we sell from hardware and software to services can impact a business in six key areas:
- Risk and Compliance
Drive Outcomes. I talk to reps all the time and they all feel a bit overwhelmed with today’s need for an expansive portfolio of products and services. For years they have been told to sell “features/benefits” and talk about new offerings; however, with the number of products and services a dealer can offer today it’s easy to see how even the most tenured of reps can get a bit taken away trying to talk value about the complete portfolio.
The most successful reps I see today are focusing more on driving desired business outcomes versus simply selling a portfolio. By concentrating more on their customers’ desired outcomes, it allows for a better business conversation around impact and outcomes. When done correctly, this business conversation allows for the rep to position the dealership to deliver multiple services to hit some key performance metrics for the business. The conversation becomes more about the business and needed outcomes versus competition and price.
If you are going to talk about impact and outcomes, make sure you are developing your reps to drive a better more effective conversation.
Keys to More Effective Business Conversations
“People don’t care what you know until they know how much you care.”
Listen. For the record, I think we all do way too much talking on first or even second appointments. A great way to show your customers, new or existing, that you care is by listening to them. Truly take the time to hear them and know what is impacting their business and where they want to drive some key business outcomes. ?
Research. Before you even show up, do a little research on the customer. With all the tools we have today online, make sure you are prepared by understanding some key industry trends and have a better understanding of the background of the person you going to meet with. ?
Plan. Have a plan, not just an agenda, when you meet with your customer. More key executives today are burdened with information and people wanting their attention. When you have an opportunity to sit down with them, be prepared with a pre-call plan and be sure to ask if anything has changed since you last spoke. Remember, a key to being relevant is talking about impact and outcomes. At the speed of business today, executives need the ability to be agile in order to keep up; this need creates daily challenges and opportunities for us to address. ?
Teach them something. The number one goal I try to have when I meet with a customer for the first time is to bring value. By bringing value it leads to next action steps that can help drive a better business conversation. ?
Provide visibility and insight. Key executives today are looking for reliable/accurate content and information. They are lacking straightforward, unbiased, and easy-to-understand information to effectively make decisions. ?
Eric Stavola is Director of Pre-Sales Engineering at mindSHIFT Technologies. He earned an M.A. in Education from Ball State University and an M.S., Computer Information Systems, from the University of Phoenix. With industry certifications including MCSE, MCSA, NET+ and CDIA+, Eric is a hands-on strategist who brings real-life experience to the table. Prior to joining mindSHIFT, Eric managed IT for major educational institutions and was COO/CIO at a multimillion dollar regional dealership.