I had coffee this week with Lee R., a seminar graduate of mine from several years ago, who has just changed jobs in the media industry from one part of the digital world to another. He is an excellent senior sales pro and as he described how he was doing everything he could to learn the buying dynamics in this new segment of the market, I remembered what a boss did for me many years ago when I was in that position which got me up to speed very quickly.
I had switched from selling an automated trading service for The New York Stock Exchange to Wall Street firms to selling advertising space for Institutional Investor magazine, a prestigious publication that targets the financial community. I knew the names of the players in the business who would be my prospects and clients because of the NYSE job, but knew little about selling advertising and even less about how advertising got bought.
Lunch & Learn
In my first week on the job, my boss arranged for me to take the Media Director of J. Walter Thompson, out to lunch. JWT was an agency that ran a lot of business with us and with whom we had a close relationship. My goal was basically to get an instant Ph.D. from this MD in how to sell advertising from a buyer’s point of view. That lunch was worth a month of joint calls.
These were 10 questions I asked and I offer them to you as well not only to help you get smart fast about your buyers, but also to give you the benefits and the language that will resonate with your market far beyond your company’s corporate lingo and inevitable boilerplate claims. (These are good questions to ask clients even if you have been in your business for years. The answers you get will keep you current with how your buyers are buying in today's market.)
1. Why do you buy from/use us?
2. What value do we provide for you?
3. What problem/opportunity did we solve/provide?
4. What were the symptoms of the problem/the signs of potential opportunity?
5. What was the key that made you choose us over the competition?
6. What criteria did you use to evaluate us?
7. How are you measuring success?
8. How do you see us in our competitive set?
9. What do you expect from us in the future?
10. What else should I be asking to really understand what is important to you when you buy X?