How to Establish Proper Alignment with Your Customers/Patients
Dr. Paul J. Pavlik, September 16, 2020
Your value propositions have no meaning until they align with your buyers’ objectives, priorities, and criteria. Understand that every business owner is always interested in improving the company’s bottom line, but every owner is not necessarily interested in receiving a plethora of unsolicited invitations to meet with new vendors offering all types of products and services; this same problem applies to those same owners and their companies trying to interest new or existing customers in one of that company’s products or services. How do you, as a provider of services and/or products, get your listeners to pay attention to what you offer and then consider doing business with you?
Business Conditions Will Change
Today’s business conditions are severely challenging the old and current rules of marketing, customer service and salesmanship. Tomorrow’s business conditions will never be the same and will challenge all old and current rules. It will require you, as the leader of your company, to understand and operate accordingly to those changes. For example, the technique of Product-Driven Selling or Push-Selling (where you try to try to convince your customers that you have the best solutions for them) are dead. You will need to reinvent how you approach all sales processes.
What You Sell is Mission Critical
You probably strongly believe that what your company offers its clients is “mission critical” to those clients. How do you convince your customers that your products/services are, in fact, imperative to their wants and needs. Today’s business environment demands that you can only sell mission critical products or services after establishing a trusted relationship with those customers you are contacting. Most successful business owners know that relationships rather than transactions are what matter in today’s marketplace. Buyers will decide on doing business with you based on their
- Objectives: What do they want to accomplish or avoid?
- Priorities: What is the order in which they pursue their objectives and how do they perceive your promises?
- Criteria: What opportunities do your services/products create for them, and how will they determine who to choose to do business with?
The Connection Factor
Everyone (your customers) starts out as a skeptic, so be prepared to answer these questions:
- “Why are you bothering me?”
- “Who cares?”
- “Why should I believe you?”
- “Why should I do anything?”
In order the drive the customer relationship journey, you need to understand what the Buyer might perceive and then, what you will do to obtain your objective. For example:
Then, at an early stage in your communications with a potential new customer, you will need to assess how much they really need what you are offering. Simply put, you will get the most positive responses to what you offer when that customer is in dire need of your products/services. To illustrate this, look at the following diagram (the Impending Doom Scale). It demonstrates that the most opportune time to offer your goods is when the customer needs you now.
So, you need to be asking the following questions to your potential clients:
- “What’s the next step in moving towards your vision for your company?”
This identifies their next logical move. If you can help them take that step, this is a prospect worth continuing the conversation with. Then, you say:
- “What can we do to help?”
This is the ultimate close because it doesn’t sound like one.
 Smith, Mark S. A., Bija Company, Executive Strategy Skills Summit. September 14 – 16, 2018.
Diagnose the Problem with Assessments
Once you have listened to and understand your customer’s needs and wants, you need to deliver a “diagnosis” to the potential buyer. Think about the importance this discussion has for the customer (similar to an important health situation that everyone can relate to). In this example, the responses are to a company owner who has expressed his/her most important concerns as being financial problems associated with poor sales. You might say:
- “After listening to you and reviewing your company’s information, I have serious concerns. I’ve identified a situation that, if it continues, is a massive risk to you and who will be the most impacted by this situation?”
- “We will assess the situation to understand the impact and identify the options. I suggest that we start right away.”
Then, you need to align your Unique Solution Proposition (USP) to their Blood-Spurting Problem (BSP). For example:
- “The good news is, I have an action plan that can fix this fast, and it will be much less expensive than the alternative.”
The goal is not to persuade prospects that you are the best choice, but the goal is to reduce their perceived risk to the point that customers feel that you are the safest choice.
How Does This Pertain to You?
Your overall GOAL should be to prepare you and your team to have the ability to deliver great customer service that improves the way you and your sales agents communicate with customers and with each other.
Your MOTIVATION should be to have a sincere desire to want to help people and promote business by learning how being motivated with customer service programs gives your whole company a significant edge over the competition.
You need to be able to take OWNERSHIP of a customers’ problems and make a personal commitment to help find a resolution to those problems.
Your company’s PHILOSOPHY should be to develop, for you and your team, exceptional communication skills that will address the full spectrum of customer service, conflict resolution and leadership skills.
The biggest key to customer success is truly caring about the customer and showing the customer you understand and really care about their problems. Then, you need to show them that you have the skills to provide unique solutions.
In 1943, Abraham Maslow developed his work on the hierarchy and progression of human needs. Maslow noted that the human hierarchy of needs spans from the tangible, such as food and water, to the intangible, such as self-esteem and creativity.
A similar progression can also be observed in the business world. Many firms, enabled by new, digital technologies, are making the shift from providing goods and services—physical things—to providing information and connectivity—intangible things.
Recently, businesses, enabled by a host of new technologies, such as cloud, social and mobile, have begun to serve the intangible needs of human beings, which sit at the top levels of Maslow’s hierarchy. These include:
- Belonging: Many companies now exist to facilitate communities between friends, colleagues or potential mates. There are also many highly specific communities for people dealing with unusual circumstances, such as rare diseases or unusual hobbies. Many of these communities had not been able to gather and communicate previously.
- Self-esteem: There are also many new ways for people to demonstrate, and be recognized, for their achievements. From the slightly frivolous (“How many likes did my new profile picture get?”) to the utilitarian (“How many stars did my most recent product receive?”), we are now able to measure our quality and impact in myriad ways.
- Self-actualization: Finally, new organizations are enabling people to express themselves creatively and/or make a living in innovative ways. Some give artisans a forum to share and sell their handiwork, while others allow people to create new careers.
It is not surprising that businesses have grown in scope to serve these higher order needs. What is surprising, however, is how dramatically companies have shifted their capital from tangible, asset-based businesses (aligned with the bottom two needs) to intangible, asset-light organizations (aligned with the top three needs). According to research, tangible assets made up 83% of the market value of the S&P 500 companies in 1975, and by 2010, the numbers had flipped, and intangible assets constituted 80% of market/corporate value.
It’s time for executives (particularly the CEO and teams to invest in not just the tangible assets at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy, but also the intangibles at the top. Their companies can then develop the tools and skills that deliver what matters to their customers. The result: satisfied customers and more value for their investors. 
 The Wall Street Journal. CFO Insights and Analysis from Deloitte. October 7, 2014. https://deloitte.wsj.com/cfo/2014/10/07/what-businesses-can-learn-from-maslows-hierarchy-of-needs/
The information contained in this article is general in nature and is not legal, tax or financial advice. For information regarding your particular situation, contact an attorney or a tax or financial advisor. The information in this newsletter is provided with the understanding that it does not render legal, accounting, tax or financial advice. In specific cases, clients should consult their legal, accounting, tax or financial advisor. This article is not intended to give advice or to represent our firm as being qualified to give advice in all areas of professional services. To the extent that our firm does not have the expertise required on a particular matter, we will always work closely with you to help you gain access to the resources and professional advice that you need.
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