“In what ways can we…?” It’s a powerful question. Simply fill in the subject depending on where you are and the issue at hand. Getting the right people to think together about a business problem can make the difference for a successful resolution, yet we have all seen occasions when the right people came up with the wrong solution. Although it is not necessarily determined at the moment, but as the decision plays out in the harsh reality of life, markets, and customer motivations, the reality of decision making is hard to hide from. Smile… We all have been there.
What do spring finally arriving and the above decision-making reality have in common? Spring means baseball, and baseball means we get to see professionals fail 70% of the time and still be honored as all-stars and millionaires. The major point is we do not have to bat 1.000 to be successful in business. Instead, the key is to never quit, to learn and adjust from our mistakes, and keep moving forward.
I have been working with Jason for the past year. He is an entrepreneur who refuses to quit. He has a great scientific solution to a common problem that all drink manufacturers have in maintaining quality and taste consistency (beer, wine, coffee, etc.). After a year, he’s realized that just having a great product with really cool technology that certainly wows his coworkers and other science geeks — I say in a very loving way — does not excite the marketplace. So what is the solution? Get these really smart guys and coworkers in a room and create new really cool graphs and apps that will win awards at technology fairs.
Last Friday, I was invited to a meeting with one of Jason’s customers and his team to hear from a customer’s point of view what the customer liked about the product and how they could make it cooler. I thought this would be interesting. Jason’s team jumped right in asking about the product and how it was working, hoping to hear why the customer was excited about their science. Guess what they heard. What they actually heard and what Charlie, the customer, was saying were actually two different things. What Jason’s team heard is that the product was cool, had neat color graphs, and was a great idea. What Charlie really was said was that it was cool, but not relevant in helping him get his business to the next level. Due to business stresses, he and his team did not have the necessary time to apply the technology. In fact, he asked if they could make something simpler sooner to accomplish the same results.
I finally jumped into the conversation and reframed the questions to better understand the “what” about the product that Charlie would be most interested in to grow his business. He said consistency and quality of the product and then to help find new products that the market would be motivated to buy. Then after the “what,” my next questions began to uncover the “why.” Here we ask questions to get at the core business issues and value in order to make a business case in a suggested solution.
I know Jason was a little frustrated with his team after the meeting, but he is moving in the right direction in having his team meet and spend time with the customer. He really has a great idea and technology, and I believe he will be successful if he and his team will acquire some selling skills moving forward.
In a nutshell: Always determine what and why the customer is motivated to buy then check your offering. Is it adequate or inadequate? Perhaps it might be as simple as asking if there is a match between your offering and your customer’s desires.
Never never give up!
Human Relation Principle of the week:
“Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.” – Dale Carnegie
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