Do you understand your customer’s ecosystem?

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You may be very experienced and smooth in delivering your sales presentation, but there is every chance that your customers may have other, related, personal or business considerations on their minds apart from just listening to you.

In this Vlog, Grant explains the importance of understanding your customer’s ecosystem

As I was walking through an airport, a rare bottle of whisky, caught my eye in the window. I walked in, already making up my mind that I wanted to buy the whisky. While the salesperson was desperately trying to convince me to buy the whisky, I wasn’t listening to word they were saying. The only thing that was stopping me is the guilt that spending so much money on myself and having nothing for my wife.

So while the salesperson was talking to me, I was desperately looking around the rest of the airport beyond their shoulder, seeing if I could find a Mac makeup shop, because I know my wife loves Mac makeup.

That purchase was happening in an ecosystem. I wasn’t prepared to spend the money on the whisky, unless I could find something for my wife.

That was an ecosystem that existed in a very simplistic domestic situation, but of course we know in the business to business world, ecosystems can be much more complicated.

To be honest, I didn’t expect a salesperson at a very busy airport to get to know me very well and understand my ecosystem, but in the business to business world, if you want to be successful, you do need to understand the ecosystems in which your customers operate.

The best way for thinking about ecosystems is to split it into four boxes, if you like, of Personal, Professional, Practical, and Emotional considerations. Let me just use an example of a car, just to paint the picture for you.

So when buying a car, there might be some personal considerations. For example; if you’ve got three children, you won’t want to buy a two seater because it simply won’t fit all the family in, so those are personal considerations.

There’ll be practical ones as well. For example; you may do lots of motorway driving and, therefore, you want a car that’s robust, good on the motorway and gives you good mileage, when you’re doing that long distance travel.

There’ll be emotional considerations. For example; there might just be some brands to which you just would never be seen in – you just don’t like those brands – there might be nothing logical behind that, but for you, there’d be certain companies you wouldn’t want to associate with.

And finally, there’ll be professional considerations as well. So there might be certain brands that your company wouldn’t want you to drive or certain colours that your company might feel are garish and wouldn’t want you seeing your customers using those colours. Unless you understand the ecosystem of your customers, using those kind of considerations, you may struggle for sales.

So take a busy finance director, who may have emotional considerations around their reputation, what colleagues think of them… They’ll have a professional agenda – where they want to be – they might be looking for promotion… they might be looking to get out the company.

There’ll be some practical considerations as well. For example, they’re just very, very time poor and they won’t want to go with a solution that’s going to utilise too much of their own time. So these are the kinds of things you have to think about, because in sales it’s often not what you know that will damage the sale, It’s what you don’t know which will kill you.

So before you go into a meeting, think about some of the questions that you need to ask, which will uncover some of these different considerations and this different ecosystem in order to make sure you don’t miss anything within that sales meeting.


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