I was driving down the highway, listening to the BBC on my SiriusXM radio when the topic of listening to your customer and anticipating their needs came up. The reporter told a story of Nokia in the early 2000s, who was king of the cell phone industry at the time. The business leaders were caught up in what they thought customers wanted: battery life. At the same time, Apple was taking a different approach and trying to forecast what customers would need in the future which would, in turn, be what they eventually wanted. Apple believed that cell phone customers would be willing to sacrifice battery life for a bright vibrant screen full of interactive elements. In the end, Apple took the right approach, making it king of the industry today.
This example reminded me that the key to sales is discovery when talking to the customer. To get to what the customer really wants, I ask four very specific questions that help me better understand the customer and their needs:
1 – What do you like most about your current situation?
2 – What do you like least about your current situation?
3 – Imagine things were different and you could have anything you wanted, what would that look like?
4 – What can never happen, and if it did happen, would result in your event being a total flop?
There also are tools that you can utilize, like SalesForce Marketing Cloud and Google Analytics, to help listen to your customer’s conversations on social media channels. NASCAR recently built an entire facility to monitor, listen and better serve its customers online called the NASCAR Fan and Media Engagement Center by HP. Remember, when dealing with customers you need to listen to both what is said and left unsaid.
If done correctly, you will actually be able to “see into the future.”