Your customers are lazy cows & it’s not their fault
Cows don’t know any better. They wake up, they eat grass, they walk along windy, crooked paths simply because some cow before them walked that long, windy, crooked path.
In a company or organization, this is called “path dependency.” Microeconomic research also shows that humans are generally risk averse. People have an aversion to taking risk and maintain a “status quo bias” – they desire for the current status even when a proposed change will improve their situation in the long run. Anyone that’s worked for a big company (or even a small one) has heard – “I don’t know. That’s just the way it’s done around here…”
As an entrepreneur or salesperson with a new product – one that will absolutely improve the situation of your prospective customers – how do you deal with this reality?
As the keynote speaker at last night’s Sacramento Startup Expo, I suggested to the audience that they focus on two things:
1. Give your customers a specific reason to make a change. It has to be more than just the standard – “Our product will decrease your costs by 35% over 12 months…” or “Our customers have experienced a 55% increase in efficiency after implementing our solution…”
Find a way to connect with person and team making the purchasing decision. What is their personal motivation? How are their personal goals and incentives aligned with your product?
As an example, imagine your buyer is a newly appointed division head While she’s probably looking for ways to increase output and run the business more efficiently, her personal motivation might be to find ways to score quick wins in the first 90 days to prove to her managers that they made the right decision in hiring her for the job.
- Could you align your solution with her short term needs to find quick wins, instead of selling a long term solution that might take months to implement,
- Are there high value problems in the business unit that your product addresses immediately?
- Could run a pilot program at a low economic cost to her so the decision stays local, and if successful, she can then show her managers who she is immediately impacting the business?
By keeping the implementation small, she wins if the pilot is successful because she looks like a hero. And if the pilot fails, she need not worry about losing face with her superiors early in her tenure.
2. Motivate your customers to take action by demonstrating a clear implementation plan. Show your buyers how purchasing and implementation process works when they buy from you.
For example, build a “7 x 1” framework, thinking in terms of “first” time period intervals to show your customers specifically what happens when they purchase from you. These intervals are:
The first minute…
The first hour…
The first day…
The first week…
The first month…
The first quarter…
The first year…
What would happen the very first minute that your customer gives you the green light? Would you inform your engineering team to begin implementing immediately? Would you set up a conference call with the customer’s chief risk officer to discuss the implementation plan? Would you set up logins for all of the users covered by the license? It’s different for every product and every customer, so think about what should happen this very first minute for each customer.
Further, after the first hour, what would have happened? Do you call the customers IT department to discuss support systems? Do you schedule travel for onsite training? Do you contact the finance department to arrange payment specifications?
By the end of the first week, should you have finished training and have your first users logging into your software? Should you be rolling out your software with the customer’s satellite office in Tacoma?
It’s up to you, your product, and the customer as to what happens. This will be different for every situation.
Following this “first” interval thinking and share your plan with your customer, gives them the confidence they deserve to know what you’re doing. This also builds trust and presents the opportunity to develop this plan with the customer. Maybe the customer says – “Hmmm….. rolling out to the Tacoma office after the first week is a little aggressive. We should do plan that for week three.” Great! Now you have buy in from your customer and they become your partner in the sales process to push through this decision.
Help your customers find new grass in the pasture by giving them a reason to take action with a clear plan.