Right Person, Right Issues
Getting information is as much about who you are getting it for as it is what you’re getting. Your goal needs to be finding That One Thing that can make the person you’re working with a hero to the company. It can range from big picture company achievements down to personal pain points, as long as it’s salient to the recipient.
When communicating with executives, remember that they’re concerned about Company Success Factors. These include high-level goals like revenue or market share, customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, and brand awareness. Mid-level management, meanwhile, will have more specific Dominant Buying Motives for their department. These are tactical concerns that can be linked to the CSF. Examples might include service technicians’ timeliness for appointments or billable hours for advertising account managers.
Pain Points, on the other hand, are more person-specific. That One Thing is often a problem that someone is trying to solve in the shorter term. For example, a manager may need to spend the allotted budget by the end of the quarter or hire X number of people within 90 days.
The bigger the cost for a model or project, the more it needs to tie into a direct business outcome. If all you’re attempting to do is get information, piloting and observing an application on the job (Kirkpatrick Level 3) with A/B testing may be enough.
As an example, I once witnessed a major retailer rolling out training for a new product, then observed sales from a group that received the training, and one that didn’t. As it turned out, the trained group fared no better at selling the product. The punchline is that the new product was a netbook, so the problem wasn’t with the training, it was the item itself. By testing and observing beforehand, the company saved itself from spending on training that would not have paid off in the long run.
Getting That One Thing
Figuring out what information to get is easy to gloss over when considering your objectives. But this is a big mistake. Stop, do not pass Go! Getting information may be THE most important area in the 3G model. This is where you find That One Thing that will help you define the Value Gap. That One Thing can be found in one of three key areas: High-level Company Success Factors, Dominant Buying Motives, and Personal Buying Motives. This is the moment professional salespeople know they will get the sale, or a sponsor knows an important project will be approved.
Ideally, you want to be able to align the Pain Points, the Dominant Buying Motives, and the Company Success Factors. This also aligns the right issues with the right person and makes it easier to gain buy-in up the Executive ladder.
As an analogy, imagine navigating a sailboat from Los Angeles to Honolulu. A navigation error of just a few degrees on a map means missing Honolulu by miles. Don’t set out on your journey with a faulty comprehension of the situation; get the information right from the beginning.
Buy-in to the solution is gained or lost depending on the outcome of the information discovery phase. Success in overcoming objections and closing the sale are deeply rooted in the information gained in this step, which we'll cover in detail a couple of weeks from now in the Gain Commitment blog post. If you want to learn more about tailoring your information gathering to your audience, drop me a line or leave a comment below.