How do you keep up with news and trends in your industry and marketplace?
- Hard copy?
- Original sources or aggregated news sources?
- Following Tweets and Blog posts by thought leaders?
What do you do with the information you glean from your information sources?
- Keep it to yourself?
- Show up and throw up the latest pronouncement at your customers and prospects?
Or do you ponder it and see whether one piece of information makes sense, or quite frankly is created to be sensational, when compared with other information on the same subject matter?
Today’s globally competitive business environment demands that sales people become more than talking pieces for company-sponsored marcom. Why? Because your business customers also are online conducting their own research on these same topics. So are your technical colleagues. Your customers, both technical and non-technical, are attending meetings (virtual or not) where a number of different folks are lecturing on various aspects of the same topic.
They are pondering this information and the data. They are synthesizing how these data mesh with their market, business and technical knowledge. They are using their powers of logic and rationale to deduce whether, or not, information makes sense to them. Common, logical sense.
If and when you do your homework on prospective and current customers, keep in mind that customers are seeking insight, a different “spin”, on the implications your information may have on how they run their businesses.
Are you, as a technical and sales professional, providing them with thoughtful and relevant insight?
Or do you read one piece of information, which might be written in a provocative manner, supported by information that’s not quite factual, and the next thing you know, you are spouting it off as an Epiphany to your customers, prospects, and possibly colleagues?
For those of you in the technical community, one piece of information only leads you on a search and destroy mission to determine whether there are complementary publications. Or not. You validate before you make pronouncements. You make very, very sure that you are comfortable about the information which you feel is newsworthy, provocative, insightful, and data-driven through solid hypothetico-deductivism.
For those of you in the sales community, do you apply the same amount of due diligence to your perusal of the information which your company asks you to provide to customers? Do you stop short in doing your homework after you find one or two articles which appear to support your agenda?
Do you take the responsibility of exploring all perspectives on a given topic. And presenting these options to customers, while you extrapolate their implications for business growth?
Customers want information that is news to them, which allows their brains to expand in innovative and creative directions. Customers don’t want information delivered in a sensational manner: all they have to do is turn on the Nightly News report to get the latest version of whatever melodrama is being spun out by the networks.
Take the time to read and learn about trends in your industry, across industries, in and out of the marketplaces in which you operate. Ask yourself whether or not this information makes sense to you before you rush off to use these data as a selling point.
Take a page out of the notebook of your technical colleagues and review and ponder the data. You will always be able to find one more piece of information that validates, or alternatively, invalidates what you want to believe.
Customers buy into your thought leadership when you understand the complete picture, the pros and cons, the issues. Now that’s news to them, and it differentiates you from the rest of the pack.
Babette Ten Haken provides technical people and other sellers a solid strategy for how to explain a product, its benefits, and its value in ways that buyers can easily understand and sellers can comfortably present. She gets people together who are often on opposite sides of the table, like engineers and sales people or entrepreneurs and investors. Her company, Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, works with entrepreneurs, start-ups & investors, as well as small businesses and manufacturers, focusing on revenue-generating and portfolio-building business development strategies. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? was named 2012 Finalist, Top Sales & Marketing Awards.