How do you sell the tangible and the intangible where products and services are simply along for the ride? When immersed in the thinking of the intangible, what everybody sees can be virtually meaningless. What matters is what few people see, and at the top of the list are emotion, influence, and time. Talk to a customer – it’s not about what you say or what you think your contact has heard – it’s about how that person feels after the meeting. An emotional reaction that is either present or not present. If not present, it’s likely nothing you said will be actioned. If present, it will be positive, neutral, or negative. If:
Now, let’s move from a one-on-one example to an organization-to-organization situation. When dealing with people, we’re addressing personalities, but in B2B sales, we’re dealing with culture. To consistently win enterprise deals, you need to map into the customer’s culture. That is, you must establish that your sales efforts and the implementation of your solution are, at the least, compatible with the customer’s culture, and at the most, will advance that culture. It’s not just providing value; it’s that plus managing how that value is generated. Will it be consistent with or advance the customer’s norms and values that create its company identity and “personality?”
So in a sense you need to treat a company like you would a customer contact.
The challenge is to effectively map into the customer’s culture – to be in it, without being of it. If the latter, you risk cultural conflict with your own company. And at the extreme, over identify with the customer and your company will accuse you of going native and not always working in the best interest of your company – which is politically very bad. But to be in it is to manage the interface between your company’s culture and that of the customer. Get this right and you’ll learn how to create a nontraditional source of unexpected customer value, while enjoying competitive differentiation that will perplex and confound your competition.