The two words are, in many ways, indistinguishable. We create value, and we sell it. Doing one without the other is meaningless. And there is no more important product for us to sell than our own ideas.
But how do you get your message to stick in an age of idea overload? Everyone is trying to pitch something. If we’re not careful, we will only add to the noise. I believe the solution is to stop and think like your customer. Really try to understand the way that they process ideas. These four thoughts come to mind when I am thinking like a customer.
It begins with first impressions, but that doesn’t mean you should present your idea with cannons blazing and trumpets blaring. A far better strategy is to focus on simplicity. In the mind of your customers, easy equals right. Slim down your presentation and ask if your idea will bring cognitive ease or cognitive strain to the table. Is it a simple idea or a complex one? You can always fill in the details later, but in the first exposure, simplicity rules.
Related: How to Think Like Your Customer
Your customer will hear the initial idea and ask one critical question -- does this solve my problem? The saying goes that people don’t buy a shovel, they buy a hole. If your idea does not solve the customer's problem, you’re probably wasting your time. Focus on how to improve your customers’ lives. Let them sense the peace and joy in utilizing what you have to offer.
This is very different from contemplating. Here, your customer moves beyond simply understanding how the idea helps and moves into deliberating whether it is worth the cost (price, time, hassle, change, etc.). Your customer always has a mental scale, and you must be aware of what falls on each side. Your idea pitch depends upon how you understand the negative weights and how you counteract with the positive weights. In other words, design your presentation with the customer’s roadblocks in mind.
The last step in the decision process is acceptance. Your potential customer realizes that your idea improves their situation and the the value exceeds the cost. But still, your work is not done. Your task now is to make it easy for the customer to say yes. This is where the acceptance question comes into play. Do not miss this critical step. It is so much easier for your customer to say yes when a question is asked -- so ask!
When we see things through the eyes of our customers, everything changes. And that is when you get to change their world.