We read all the time that we are supposed to be helpful to our customers. We have to help them understand the need to change, perhaps inciting them to change. We have to help them through their buying process. We have to help them understand new opportunities, the challenges/risks of change, how to reach consensus…….

According to all the experts, we have to do all of this stuff to help our customers succeed.

But, what about us–the sellers? We have our goals and quotas to make. It’s coming onto the Holiday Season, we need those commission checks! Shouldn’t we be spending our time pitching our solutions, showing how superior we are to the competition?

How can we accomplish our goals if we waste all this time being helpful to the customer?

These are conversations I have with sellers.

The focus is not on helping customers, but on getting the order and achieving their goals.

In fairness, everything their companies do reinforces the focus on the transaction.

Their training focuses on how to sell and product knowledge. Our tools reinforce this, we have the capability to send 1000s of emails and make 100s of calls.

We invest millions in training and tools, yet we don’t know how to have a conversation with the customer about their businesses, about their problems, about their goals and aspirations? We don’t know how to look at their businesses and ask the questions, “What if…,” “Have you ever considered…,” “Why are you doing things this way……?”

Our internal processes and management focus reinforces all of this. We put in place metrics focused on dial, calls, proposals, activities. We structure our engagement processes in a manner that is optimal for us, yet doesn’t promote relationship and trust building with the customer. Manager conversations focus on deal progress, the things we do to convince the customer to buy our product. The focus is on achieving the monthly/quarterly number. Promotions to incite the customer to buy now are offered (training the customer to wait until they get the promotion).

I sit in reviews, “What problem is the customer trying to solve?” The answer is, “They need to buy a…….” The seller rarely articulates the problem.

I ask, “What happens if they don’t solve the problem?” The answer is, “We don’t get the order—but we will offer them a discount to try to get it.”

“Why do they need to change?” The seller responds, “It was an inbound lead, they want to understand our product?”

“What are they worried about?” The answer, “They are looking for these functions and features. We need to show them we have more than the competitors.”

We don’t know how to have conversations about and with the customer. We don’t know how to help them solve a problem, address and opportunity, make a decision in which they have great confidence. Instead, we focus on product selection.

The problem is, until the customer is confident in what they are doing, that they understand the problem, the solution, the risks, and what it means to them individually/organizationally, they won’t make a decision, change, and create a PO.

If we don’t help the customer with what they care about, we will never get what we care about. It’s that simple.