One of the first things we do when we start with a new client is to ask the management team to describe the business, as if we were meeting at a networking event of some sort. At least 75% of the time, the ANSWER is a faithful review of the services offered.

For example: “We offer a customer engagement platform that works with large retail brands like Adidas and Nike.”

For sure, it’s important to define the “what” of the business. Any mission statement has to explain what the company is in business to do, and everyone in the company needs to understand it.

But here’s the thing: prospects don’t buy from you for what YOU do. They hire you to solve a problem THEY’VE got, or something they want to achieve. In short, they hire you for what THEY get.

How do you make that important shift? You look at the world through the customer’s lens, rather than through your own. ANSWER these important questions:

  1. In their language, what is the pain point or problem the customer is trying to solve?
  2. What are the consequences of not solving this pain point? If the problem is large, then the need for a solution becomes urgent. Of course, the opposite is true.
  3. What is required to address the pain point? How does the customer define the solution?
  4. How does the customer measure the “success” of whatever that solution is?

Once these questions are answered, you map your solution to theirs and make sure that what you offer conforms to what prospects need and also delivers against the success criteria they’ve defined.

This exercise is critical for startups and established companies alike. A great example of a startup that listened carefully to customers is Blue River Technology. They pivoted twice after their initial product offering on the way to building a very successful company.

Given the rate of change in the marketplace and the influx of new entrants across a wide range of categories, who’s to say that the way the customer defines the pain point and the solution is the same today as it was even a year ago? It’s too big a risk to just assume that your customer base will remain static. You must always be having conversations with customers where the objective is NOT to sell, but rather to listen and learn.