The Roman philosopher Cicero once said, “If you wish to persuade me, you must think my thoughts, feel my feelings, and speak my words.”
No matter how sure you are that Cloud services can improve a company’s productivity, conserve its capital and save it time, you’ll likely have difficulty convincing customers to move to the Cloud unless you get inside your customers’ skin, their business, and their concerns. To do that, you must think their thoughts, feel their feelings, speak their words – you must understand that each customer’s needs and expectations of the Cloud are different.
Clients’ decisions aren’t just based on finding the rational answer to their business challenge. Their background, fears, prejudices, and ultimate goals all play a role in how they deal with problems. Thus, you’ll need to also understand, recognize, and address what frightens them, what turns them off, and what motivates them. And that takes time; you can’t just go the shortest route to sell them.
If you step back, take a few deep breaths, and really dig down when understanding customer needs and expectations, you’ll find that closing the sale becomes much more likely.
So how do you do that?
Think My Thoughts: Understanding Customer Needs and Expectations
All customers and their businesses have problem areas: issues that drive them up the wall, that interfere with growth, or keep them constantly overwhelmed. And many customers’ work lives are affected by their home lives that can sometimes be fraught with tension, stress, and disharmony. Those emotions will come into play in their decisions – after all, like you, they’re only human.
When you talk with a customer, make it a real conversation – a discussion between two people about how things are going in general to get a sense of the personal and connect on some level. Then ask how the IT area is working, find out where the problem areas are and what is most challenging. Is it the need for collaboration among far-flung employees? Is it data security or issues with compliance? You’ll only know by having conversations.
What does your customer know about the Cloud? How much of that is reality and how much is myth? You need to understand their answers and get to know their thoughts and expectations.
Do they expect to decide to adopt Cloud services tomorrow and migrate their network overnight? How much flexibility and ease of use do they expect? Let your customers know the realities. What do they expect of you?
Find out, and let them know how you will meet these expectations, what services they can expect from you and how quickly you will provide them.
Learning all this will help you find your customers’ Achilles heels so you can develop Cloud solutions that can ease their pain.
All well and good, but just how are you to do all this?
Feel My Feelings: The Role of Empathy
To really understand someone’s feelings you need to ask questions and listen, not give them your sales pitch. What you’re looking for is a way in to find your customer’s pain point – or what gives them a pounding headache – so you can create the most appropriate Cloud solution.
Remember, you’re going for details so you can learn what truly matters to them. Go for questions that will elicit more than short answers. Ask probing questions to get to the heart of the matter and understand what’s going on.
Probing questions often start with the following words:
People respond to those who understand them. Listen intently. Really focus. Ask appropriate questions. They’ll know you’re listening and understand when you say something like sales pro Richard Ruff does: “Can we just pause for a minute? You mentioned there were things that were important to you. Let me make sure that I understood them.”
Pay attention to the “feeling” words your customer uses, words like hate, like, satisfied, interested, surprised, skeptical, or nervous. When you hear words that convey emotion, you get a deeper sense of what they are feeling. Then you can let them know you understand.
Perhaps you’ll find a concern about handling data appropriately to comply with regulations, or worries about security, or apprehension about having all the hardware out of physical reach. Maybe the customer fears losing control if they move to the Cloud, or that once in it they won’t be able to get out. Or perhaps they have already been in the Cloud and got burned. Regardless, once you understand the feelings the customer has, you can work on a solution that makes sense for them.
Pay attention to nonverbal communication as well. Not all customers will come out and tell you they fear something new or are concerned about a particular thing – but their body language could. By listening intently and reading body language, you’ll understand the customer’s feelings and can imagine yourself feeling the same way. By responding appropriately, you validate their feelings and they know you understand them. This can open the way for you to creatively identify and solve your customers’ needs.
Speak My Words: Word Choice Matters
Yes, words can paint pictures, but they also can create confusion where there should be none. Just as you listen to the words your customer uses, you need to listen to yours and choose those words with care. Understand that not all customers know as much about Cloud services as you.
Educate your customers but don’t lecture. You want to enhance their functional knowledge of Cloud services, but this means using their words, not the Cloud vocabulary, and keeping their needs and expectations in mind.
Don’t Talk Specs; Talk Benefits
Your customers want to know how a Cloud solution will benefit their business. Very rarely will they care how many virtual processors are on the host machine or want to know what elastic computing means. But those customers do want to know whether the Cloud will let them do all that needs to be done and whether they can increase services on the fly.
Cut the jargon. The eyes of even the most hardened data professionals will glaze over if you list the specs and features. Instead, use simple language that highlights the benefits. For instance:
- It’s a monthly cost instead of thousands of dollars upfront
- When you need more processing power, just click a button
- Hardware maintenance time is reduced, giving your IT people time to focus on business initiatives
- You’ll be able to access data from anywhere, on any of your devices
Now You Have the Ideal Solution
It is only after understanding customer needs and expectations that you can find the Cloud solution that suits them best. Maybe it’ll be best to start slow, with an easy learning curve, and move the customer’s email or collaboration systems to the Cloud. Perhaps it will involve a Cloud-connected approach that will be best where some things are still on-site, while others are moved to the Cloud. Whatever it is, you thought their thoughts, felt their feelings, and spoke their words. And in doing so, you’ve determined a solution that really does fit that customer’s needs and expectations in the Cloud.
If you’d like to gain more insight into understanding customer needs and expectations of the Cloud and would like to learn more about boosting your MSP business, get in touch with the experts at Total Product Marketing. We specialize in marketing for the Cloud and hosting industries and we can help you.