Article 6 – Become THE Expert on What Matters

This is one article in a series. For the entire series on one page, please see Proven Enterprise Sales Process, Steps 1 to 10 inside this site's Blog Articles pages.

Excellence Essentials, 2016

Knowing your product or service is important but incomplete. To get the enterprise deal to happen quickly, you will want to become an expert on how the customer's Success Criteria. And then on how to use your offering to make those criteria happen.

Think about yourself as a business customer. Do you prefer to buy from people who understand your needs? *When your prospect believes you understand them and their needs, you can ask them work with you to sculpt your offering to meet both of your needs. This article shows how to make that happen.*

Following the process from the last 5 editions of Sales and Service Excellence you now have invaluable information:
- The list of key stakeholders in your customer's decision.
- An idea of how the key sponsor measures success for a problem that keeps him or her up at night.
- The right and support to ask the other stakeholders what keeps them up at night. You can go to them to get their success criteria for the purchase.

You are no longer just a vendor. You are a person who asks the right questions. You can increase your value to the stakeholders and to your sponsor by doing a short in person survey.

A Personal Survey Makes You More Valuable

The survey is very simple. You do the same thing you did in the pervious article but now talk to each stakeholder. Ask each if the sponsor's request is a top priority. If it is, ask how they define success for that.

What will you have when you are done?
- You'll have information that no-one else in the company has,
- You will know what each stakeholder defines as success for the project, and
- What each will need to fully buy in to the implementation.

This works for you because you're working on a problem that ranks as one of the most important that the sponsor perceives. If this problem is one of the most important ones that these managers face, they will care. When you have talked to each of them and then ask them to come sit down and hear what the other stakeholders' answers are, they will make time for that.

Your image will change. You have made yourself a person with a real understanding of the critical issue and a fresh perspective of it.

When you are done with the survey, you will have the success criteria as seen by each of the people you need to have support you. You will have a lot of notes, and an idea of how to adapt your solution so that it has the best chance of success. And you will be able to schedule a meeting to share all that with the stakeholders (see the next month's article in Sales and Service Excellence.)

Survey Steps

The steps are easy.
A - Ask your sponsor to have someone set up a meeting with each stakeholder individually. Let them know that you only need 45 to 60 minutes, and that you will ask two questions.
B - When you get to the meeting, remind the stakeholder that each question and answer is confidential. Later you will share all the answers with the stakeholder as a way of paying them back for the time, but no one's name will be attached to any answer.
C - Then ask: What are your success criteria for this problem? And: Is this problem truly important?
D - Then take lots of notes.
E - When you are done, restate what you have heard and ask if you have it right.

In almost every case you will find that you have a half hour of listening from just those two questions. You may ask some probing questions or you may find that you need to do nothing but keep up. Remember to say thank you and tell them they will be invited to the discussion of the results. They'll come.

Two things to avoid. - Never offer to tell them the answers. Why? Even if you think you know the solution you are probably wrong. You need to hear all the stakeholders before you know anything. Even if you're right, it is insulting to offer a solution before you have heard all the stakeholders.
- Never break confidentiality.

Then schedule the next meeting, where you will share all of this with the stakeholders and then let them buy into the right solution. That is called the Design Session, and we'll discuss it in the next issue of Sales and Service Excellence.

Originally commissioned by and published in Excellence Essentials, Copyright 2016 by the Meyer Group, all rights reserved. To redistribute, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.