Everybody wants to increase their market share. They are looking to create products and services that will delight their customers and clients. Yet, many businesses seem to replicate their sales process repeatedly, protecting the status quo.
Adapted from engineering and design’s legendary method of “design thinking,” design thinking sales is a process that will leave your customers happy because they are now part of the process. There are numerous variables and constraints that define the challenges we see in sales. These include, but are not limited to: schedule, price, product functionality, ability to deliver, among others.
Customers expect you to know them. The marketplace is crowded; you need to differentiate yourself. Creating personas can help. Personas help you identify the pain points, experience, and expectations. They help you recognize your customer’s relationships with their customers. Salespeople are expected to close fast and typically do an internet search to get some necessary information.
It is in this part where the problem arises. Salespeople have the solution based on the description of the problem the customer told them. It is like a doctor writing a prescription to ease the symptoms without testing to find out what the problem is. Not knowing how the customer is really going to use your product or service may lead to disappointment. However, if you dig deeper and ask more questions about the activities around the pain points, you may have a better solution; this curiosity and concern is a game-changer.
Design thinking is an iterative process based on empathizing with the pain points, defining the problem, ideating solutions, prototyping, and testing solutions. The purpose of design thinking is to solve the problems people have. When your customers are talking to your sales staff, they are looking for solutions.
The first step is empathizing or walking in your customer’s shoes to fully understand their needs. Doing this means visiting not only their website but also their facilities. You want to understand them and their business to see how they work, witness the pain points, and begin to design a solution that your products or capabilities can create.
The next step is to articulate the problem. If you try to solve the problem statement as presented, you will have your sights set on those specific pain points; and when you attempt to fix them, you may miss the underlying causes. Pursuing the initial problem statement is a big mistake and leads to Band-Aids and short-term solutions to the root cause. It is one of the reasons the problem does not go away and why other related issues emerge. Make sure you are asking the right question.
To move beyond the initial problem statement, redefine the problem utilizing the user stories behind it. What did the people who have the pain points tell you? Is it the same as what you witnessed? Understanding the entire story–from the customer’s perspective–provides an enhanced picture of what you will need to solve. Asking what the pain points are, how and when they developed, who was involved, and why it was done the way it was done, elevates the problem statement into a worthwhile challenge.
Now it is time to brainstorm with your team. Instead of preparing a workshop or presentation, bring in everyone involved with the solution for your customer. It may be a product or service you already have; you may need to modify an existing product or service, or you may have to develop something new. Regardless, work to provide your customer with the solution that truly relieves their pain points. It is of the utmost importance to challenge any ideas based on preconceived notions of “this has always worked before.” Has it? Has your customer’s base problem really been solved? Offer something new that disrupts the status quo.
Once you have solid ideas about your solution, present them to the customer. Prototype simple, inexpensive models that will demonstrate your solution to them. Learn from their feedback and iterate the process. This test is the place where you create high fidelity models to prove your solution or to find the gaps in it. This testing of the prototype with your customer is the place where you differentiate yourself. You have now created a custom solution to a particular pain point.
Design your sales. Customize for your customers–and thrive.
If you’re looking for help tailoring solutions to your business’ pain points, we’ve got a team to help you navigate through that.