The ultimate shorthand method of describing an alignment between people or organizations. Choose between prospective candidates for an important job, and you’ll select the one that “gets it”. Think of different types of friends and you’ll choose the ones that “get it” – meaning those that “get you”, or understand you of course. Look for software that fits your particular business needs and you’ll go with the supplier that “gets it”. Or at least you should.
When we speak the words, “They get it” or “She really gets it” we’re being purposely selfish. We are indicating that the recipient of our praise is someone or some organization that has come completely over to our point of view, our expression of reality. On a personal level, such selfishness helps our self esteem. For a company choosing software, such selfishness is exactly what is needed to achieve their project goals and avoid future pains and problems.
Technology can be very confusing, and software is often the ultimate expression of that confusion. Good software tends to be very rich in capabilities, very flexible in implementation, but, somewhat complex to fully understand. Prospects attempting to make decisions for their business between competitive software offerings almost always cope with this complexity by reverting to one of two decision paths:
1. Go with the company with the perception of “safest”. This is the easy “no decision” path through the process. Pick the software company with the easiest upgrade path, biggest name, largest market share, or finest reputation. It’s a modern version of the old saying, “Nobody got fired for buying IBM”. This is sweet music to the ears of the salesperson of one of these vendors if they happen to be positioned as “the safest” by some measurement, but it doesn’t feel as good if you’re the salesperson of a smaller or lesser known product.
2. Go with the one that “gets it”: This takes a little more time and research on the prospect’s part, but it is often worth the effort. Prospect’s have a hard time describing objectively why one vendor “gets it” and another doesn’t, but they know it when they experience it.
When a software vendor has the “safest” combined with a sales team that “gets it”, they are almost unbeatable. The vendors with a smaller market share hope that their more prominent competitor has an increasingly difficult time maintaining their “get it” position the larger they become.
So let’s state it clearly right here: It is the sales team’s job to “get it” and to ensure that the prospect understands that you “get it”. I often hear sales and presales people talk about “educating the customer”, or “getting the prospect to understand our value”. Those kinds of statements can be destructive in that they shift the path. They imply a prospect should arrive at your point of view, not vice-versa. You will never be the vendor that “gets it” if you view the process as bringing the prospect closer to you. Turn it around and figure out how you get closer to the prospect’s view of reality. Figure out how to join your prospect’s “get it” club.
At 2WIN! Global we talk about “building a bridge” and leading the prospect across the bridge. You won’t get the prospect across the bridge by standing on one side and shouting “come on across” to the prospect on the other side. You also won’t get them across by dumping the components (your features and differentiators) on their side of the bridge and ask them to build it themselves. To get that prospect across the bridge, you have to both build it for them and walk across to their side. Only then can you be the vendor that “gets it”, which in turn gives you the right to lead the prospect across that bridge.
What are the keys to becoming the “get it” vendor? Here’s the first clue: You can’t fake it. You’re going on to their turf, playing their game. They’ll know instantly if you don’t know the rules. So here are some actions that get right down to being in the “get it” club:
Know how your prospect makes money. It sounds so simple, but many sales teams really don’t take the time in figuring this one out. Think about it: You’re trying to sell them software to help their business. The only three meaningful ways that you can help them is to lower their costs, increase their revenues or improve their balance sheet. To do any of these, you must understand how they make their money…even for non-profit organizations and government agencies. Many of the actions to join the “get it” club can be done at the vertical and sub-vertical level.
Eliminate “Technobabble” from your vocabulary. Toss out your acronym and terminology book, and build a new one. I once worked with a software company that actually produced an acronym guide to the company, its products, and the technology industry. Bad plan! Replace it with an acronym and terminology book of the target vertical and prospects. If you are selling to a banker, understand banking terms. If you are selling to hospitals, understand hospital terms. We call this “Talking the Talk”. Here’s an idea: Use you internal sales support website (you do have one, right?) to build wiki’s for the various verticals you serve. Seed it with the basic terminology, than encourage everyone that is customer facing to keep building out the knowledge base.
Business processes tend to be similar in general, but specific by vertical. Many verticals have an “order to cash” process, but it is very different in retail then in finance. All government entities have compliance reporting needs, but an electrical utility’s needs are very different than those of a court of law. Take the primary four or five processes of the vertical that you address (ones addressed by your software would obviously be best) and chart them out. Understand the steps, the flow, the terminology, and the roles. Use these basics as your basis for understanding the work of a particular prospect. This one requires specific answers for each and every prospect. Imagine pitching ecommerce solutions to a company that makes money by providing excellent, hands-on personal customer care. Good luck with that one.
Don’t demonstrate bicycle manufacturing to a jet engine manufacturer. When you do you commit the crime we call “The Widget Syndrome”. That’s just my simple way of remembering to always make my presentations, demonstrations, stories, and discussions directly relevant to the work that drive’s the prospect’s company. Yes, it is harder to prepare this way, but it is critical to being in the “get it” club.
Listen and ask questions. Obviously, your discovery process is critical in joining the “get it” club. This is where you begin building trust with the prospect. This is where your industry knowledge pays off. Preparation is the key to success in this critical step in the sales process. You should have key, industry specific questions you know you should ask by role or by process on a single page of paper. You have probably experienced the uselessness of a 25 page survey. At the same time, you have probably left a prospect’s operations and forgot to ask a key question! This one-page rule will help you find the balance you need.
There are other methods of ensuring your “get it” position, but this is a good starting list. I’ll leave you with a story about a customer and two software vendors that perfectly illustrates the point of “getting it”.
An acquaintance of mine sells software into the forestry industry. He learned quickly that to win the business, he has to be able to prove that he “gets it” much better than his competitor. When asked about this, he explains it in this manner:
“The typical salesperson will go in to a forestry prospect and talk about manufacturing things. To be exact, they will talk about bringing together raw materials into components, components into assemblies, and assemblies into finished goods. But that’s not how the business works. In forestry, the job is to take apart the raw materials into pieces, and either sell the pieces or reassemble the pieces into new products.” To put it very simply: “You don’t assemble trees from two by fours, you take trees apart to make two by fours.” Understanding that statement and all that it implies is the secret to belonging to the forestry “get it” club.