Ashley Welch and Justin Jones have written an intriguing sales guidance book: Naked Sales — How Design Thinking Reveals Customer Motives and Drives Revenue.
The writers’ premise is that account executives (or in our industry, business developers) spend too much time trying to pitch their product/service, rather than really understand the needs and passions of the potential clients — and that is defined most clearly by their relationship with their own customers.
In other words, in order to succeed in sales, you need to drill down deeper into business before you even think making a proposal.
The suggestion is intriguing, but the client focus experience examples are almost exclusively business to consumer enterprises, because it is generally much more challenging to get a direct “client” experience in the business-to-business environment, unless you are already doing business as a customer of the company to whom you wish to sell, and in that case, you probably wouldn’t need any book to tell you how to figure things out.
For example, the first example cites a salesperson seeking to sell a business management system to Greyhound. The representative decided to take a bus for an extended trip between Northern and Southern California, and could see the interactions between the front line workers (especially the drivers) and passengers, and observed systems flaws and circumstances which he knew he could fix. These observations led to a much more powerful presentation than coming into the story with the pitch for the software product he was vending.
But how do you do this if you are a sub-trade trying to win work from a general contractor, or an architect wishing to win a commission for a public sector project?
The writers suggest an alternative to the direct experience concept; that is the structured interview, encouraging the potential client to tell their stories and get deeper into what really matters. And I agree that would be great, if we had enough “in” in the first place to ask these types of questions.
I’ll share some more observations in the next posting. Certainly, however, you may find value with this book especially if your client is working in the business-to-consumer space. After all, Greyhound needs architects for its terminals, and Starbucks is building out store locations.