As I’m sitting down to write this post, I’ve got my email in-box open, my cell phone next to me, my office phone ringing, and a to-do list a mile long that will undoubtedly keep me occupied until I’m well past my retirement age.
In other words, I’m distracted.
Then again, in our current world of social networking and 24/7-access, who isn’t? Today, clients and prospects are likely being inundated by a variety of issues, requests, and problems that, collectively, are pulling their attention in multiple directions.
In other words, they’re distracted.
But, like any good businessperson, most owners and executives can boil their priorities down to only the bare essentials, focusing their attention on the activities and issues that make the most efficient use of their time and attention, and have the biggest impact on their business.
As a seller, it’s your job to identify what those priorities are, then ensure that you’re only reaching out to prospects when you have information that’s relevant to those priorities. Otherwise, you may be viewed as a nuisance — just another distraction that’s attempting to pull executives and business owners away from the things that truly matter.
What is the “Value Curve” and Why Does it Matter?
At the KLA Group, we refer to the distribution of a prospect’s priorities as the “value curve.”
Like any distribution curve, this one has a peak that is flanked by two valleys. Prioritized needs find themselves sitting at the top of the value curve, while issues, tasks, and other activities that are less important typically slide off into one of the two valleys.
The challenge for salespeople is to determine the priorities that reside at the very top of a prospect’s value curve. So, how can you do that?
One way is to just ask them. Let’s say your conversation with a prospect is focused on IT, for example. Rather than just diving into a discussion about your product or solution, you should begin the conversation by discussing the prospect’s IT problems, and exploring how their current setup is helping or hurting their business.
To do that, you might ask questions like these:
- How do you use your IT to create a competitive advantage?
- How is that IT affecting your customer base?
- What can’t you do with your existing IT that you really want or need it to do?
Queries like those can help you get to the root of a prospect’s problem and identify the priorities that rest at the peak of their value curve. Ultimately, that’s pretty powerful information, particularly if you’re struggling to stand out in a crowded market or appeal to a distracted executive.
What to Do Once You’ve Identified Your Prospects’ Top Priorities
Understanding your prospects’ priorities is just the first, basic step toward delivering more impactful information to them.
To really stand out, you need to be hyper focused on the one or two that really matter. Any deeper than the first two priorities, and your prospect’s attention will probably sway. In the blink of an eye, another one can take precedence over yours. But, if you’re observant and focused on the very top of your clients’ value curve, people will make time for you — no matter how busy they are.
The payoff for your effort can be significant, too. You’ll encounter fewer stalled opportunities and protect yourself against competitors ever getting through a prospect’s door. After all, if you’ve displayed that you have a comprehensive grasp of your prospect’s key initiatives and have delivered substantial recommendations that move them forward, why would a prospect want to distract themselves further by entertaining anyone else?