Learn To Read Your Customer’s Mind In 3 Simple Steps

by drjim on November 9, 2009

Teach Your Sales Teams How To Get In Their Customer's Heads...

Teach Your Sales Teams How To Get In Their Customer’s Heads…

Just shut-up and buy my product! In fact, while you are at it, buy a lot of my product. If only we could really tell our potential customers this then life would be so much simpler. However, try this little verbal outburst just once and then you’ll have a chance to sit back and spend some time polishing your resume as you look for your next product manager job.

If you really want people to buy more of your product, then do what I’ve done – learn how to read minds

How Most Product Mangers Equip Sales To Sell

In a recent poll that I took, I asked product mangers how they learned to do their job. 50% of the answers were for “on-the-job-training”. Clearly most of us are just winging it. Since we don’t really have any deep philosophy behind most of our product management actions, this explains why most of us are doing such a poor job of equipping the sales teams to sell our products.

If you need a sound bite for what we’re doing, then it would be the “pitch & pray” technique. This is where we teach the sales teams about the value of our product and then have them go out and pitch it to customers, over and over again. Sometimes it works, most of the time it doesn’t.

Moving To The Scientific Approach To Selling Your Product

Not all product managers are stuck at this very basic level of supporting the sales teams. Some of us have seen the errors of our ways and have managed to crawl our way up to the next level: scientific selling support.

This is where we’ve done some research (with or without the sales team) in order to find out just how the customer goes about making buying decisions – what is their buying process.

This approach generally brings in many more sales than the old way of just pitching the product’s value to as many customers as possible. However, there is one problem: not all customers are rational.

The scientific approach of matching your product to the customer’s buying process doesn’t work in the roughly 33% of all customers who are not guided by rational decisions. Oh, oh – what to do now?

Top Of The Pyramid: The 3 C’s Approach

There is a better way to equip your sales teams to sell your products. I’ve only bumped into a handful of product managers during my career who have been able to achieve this level of collaboration with their sales teams, but the success that they have been able to achieve has always served as a goal for me to shoot for.

At the top of the product selling technique pyramid are the product mangers who show the sales teams how they can Collaborate with Customers to Create new products. The thinking here is that a potential customer needs more than just your product to solve their problems. If you can teach your sales teams that your potential customers simply don’t know what they don’t know and that they need to help the customers to understand the big picture of a solution and how your product can fit into an overall solution, then you’ll be able to make even more sales.

What All Of This Means For You

Product managers are the CEO of your product. In your company, you are the one person who is most heavily invested in the success of your product. In order for the product to be successful, your sales teams are going to have to know how to sell it.

All too often product mangers do the minimum amount of work to get the sales teams set up to sell their product: they just outline the product’s benefits. What we need to do is to take the extra steps that will make our sales teams even more successful. This means starting by taking the time to study and understand our potential customer’s buying habits and patterns. Once we know these, then we can help our sales teams match them.

Finally, we can work with sales to help them start to collaborate more closely with the customer. Once they are able to do this, then they’ll be able to open the doors to both more sales and to larger sales.

Now that you know what you have to do, get out there and help your sales teams sell more!

Do you think that your sales team could ever get beyond the “pitch & pray” technique for selling your product?


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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

If you were going fishing, how much luck catching fish do you think that you would have if you didn’t use any bait on your hook? Sure, there are probably some either dumb or near-sighted fish that might still bite, but you’re going to be doing a lot of sitting around waiting. Is it possible that as a product manger you are fishing for customers for your product without bait?

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