We are taught it on our first day in sales training. That the customer only cares about WIFM: “What’s in it for me”. So, whatever we are proposing has to solve the buyer’s problem. Or meet the buyer ’s needs. But how much of what an account manager is provided by his or her business is actually about the customer’s problem, versus how much is about their own business needs? What percentage of work, effort, information and time is devoted by your company to the customers’ business compared to yours?
10%? 5%? Less?
It’s down to sales to take on this matter, and demand that your support functions focus more on the needs of the people you seek to sell to — your retailers.
And that starts with data.
How much information do you get about your customers? I don’t mean the latest Nielsen report on your category, I mean information about their business as a whole. The image above illustrates the point, one initiative by Amazon (buying Whole Foods) had a hugely more impact on the share prices of many of your customers than any number of supplier initiatives, NPD launches or marketing plans. And Nielsen data didn’t tell you anything about it. And that’s just one example.
So here is the question to your insights function – what data do we have about Walmart, Wegmans or Target as a whole? Do we know what landscape our category is fitting into, what shopper issues are top of their agenda, or what are the principal problems that they are facing?
Start your proposals in that territory, and inevitably that will lead to more productive conversations. Your buyer might even think you are genuinely seeking to help them. We measure with shoppers the entire business of all major USA retailers – because that’s what they care about.