The financial gains found in creating efficiencies are definitely a key motivator for upper management. This may include additional employee security and reduced mitigation. Also, having increased visibility will motivate further investigation.
Operations management are more keen on a streamlined implementation and ease of use. Change is painful for most by nature. Further demonstrating ease of use and minimal maintenance will always gain friends.
Try not to let their eyes glaze over by using deep industry jargon. Otherwise, you’ll only frustrate your client and stymie engaging conversations that will feed critical cues on what matters to them.
Being able to relate in a consistent manner is important. But understand, everyone has their own values. What you find to be exciting about a product is usually the opposite of what your audience does. You can bridge that gap by stepping back from your knowledge. Try asking clients what they like the most and least about their current provider.
A conversation is the opposite of a pitch. Let the customer do the talking. They’re not used to this approach, so it may take some timely questions. My experience is that honesty best serves all concerned. You having all the answers is not allowing for the client’s participation.
Treat every meeting as a learning experience. Every person has individual drivers that trigger actionable results. Sharing a common interest or goal will strengthen these interactions.
Showing passion about your offerings is infectious. It exudes confidence and brand strength. Sometimes the client has bought into products that may compete with yours and learned more about them through their own past experiences. This lends a bias that should not be challenged. Instead, use it to your advantage. Agree with their previous choices at the time and perhaps select key benefits or features of the products in question. Now use those examples to illustrate how your offerings raise the bar. Ask them if the key differentiators would align with past deciding factors. In other words, would they have selected your offerings back then?
This type of mutual engagement is a winning approach and allows the customer to gain further insights on how they can take ownership of a project and develop a solution in co-operation with you. Once they see the opportunity to marshal a project within their own working area, help them convey this to upper management.
Be aware, though, that operations and finance speak different languages. Think of it as a team effort — each has different perspectives, mandates and responsibilities. You become the glue that keeps this project moving forward.
David J. Atkins is the principal of David J. Atkins Consulting (www.davidjatkins.com).
We all have a job to do and frankly, are too busy to do it. That’s why you need to find a value that hits home with your client. This could either from the technical side, found within product features, or from the help your products and services provide.
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