Your Customers are Buried!

Jill Konrath author of the best selling book; Selling to Big Companies has another book coming out called SNAP Selling.

I am honored that Jill has given me the opportunity to read it before it launchs at the end of the month.

Jill is a great story in herself. She started her career at Xerox and rose to great heights before starting her own business. Crushing it, failing and starting all over, crushing it again, Jill brings unique, timely ideas to the proverbiale selling table.

Rather than wait until I finish the book to share my thoughts with this community, I’m going to share them as I go along. There is some good stuff in this book. I didn’t want to wait.

Jill’s premise is simple. The sales world is changing and if you don’t recognize these changes. You’re in trouble.

The most material change observed by Jill is our customers are completely over worked. They are buried.

This is illustrated brilliantly in her first chapter; A Candid Letter from Your Customer.

“Dear Seller

I only have a few minutes, but I understand you’re interested in selling me something. As far as I’m concerned, that’s being pretty self-serving.

The truth is, you have no idea what my life is like. You may think you do, but you don’t–and you need to if you’re going to get my business.

I got to the office early this morning so I could have some uninterrupted time to work on a project–something I cant seem to squeeze into the normal business day.

By 9 a.m. all my good intentions were dashed when my boss asked me to drop everything in order to put together a headcount reduction plan. Revenue slumped last quarter and we need to cut costs.

Then, Engineering informed me that our new product won’t be available for the upcoming tradeshow. Sales will go balistic when they hear this. That’s the last thing I need to have happen.

Get the picture? Welcome to my world of everyday chaos where, hard as I try to make progress, I keep slipping further behind. Right now, I have at least 59 hours of work piled on my desk. I have no ideas when I’ll get it all done.

Did I mention email? I get over 150 each day. Then, add to that at least 30 phone calls from sellers just like you who’d “loved to meet with me.”

In short, I have way too much to do, ever-increasing expectations, impossible deadlines, and constant interruptions from people wanting my attention.

Time is my most prescious commodity and I protect it all costs. I live with the staus quo as long as I can–even if I’m not happy with it. Why? Because change creates more work and eats up my time.

Which gets us back to you. In your well-intentioned but misguided attempts to turn me into a customer, you fail woefully to capture and keep my attention. Let me be blunt. I don’t care about your product, service or solution.

I quickly scan your emails or letters looking for self-promotional talk that glorifies your offering or your company. The minute it jumps out at me, your gone. Zapped from my inbox or tossed in the the trashcan. Say it in your voicemail message and I delete you immediately. Delete, delete, delete.

When you spend and entire meeting blathering about your unique methododogies, great technology and or extraordinary service, my mind wanders to important tasks that need to get done. Sure, I occasionally check for messages. But you would too if you were in my position.

I’m not always like this. Occasiionally a savvy seller captures my attention, entices me to meet, shows me why I should change and then makes it easy for me to work with them.

What are they doing? They’re completely focused on my business and the impact they can have on it. That’s what I care about–not their pitch.

If you focus on helping me achieve my objectives, I’ll listen to you all day long. But you can’t rope me in with the good stuff, then slip back into that trash talk. If so, you’re gonzo.

Make sense? I hope so, because I’m late for a meeting and while I’ve been writing this, the phones been ringing off the hook.

Best regards,

Your Customer”

This letter got my attention. Did it get yours? It should.

Great way to jolt us to pay attention Jill. We’re listening!

Excerpted from SNAP Selling: Speed Up Sales and Win More Business With Today’s Frazzled Customers by Jill Konrath, Portfolio 2010

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