Are you ready for some football?
In just a few days outside of New York City, the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks will play in Superbowl 48 for the championship of the National Football League (NFL). This American football event will be the most viewed sporting event of the year in the United States. Many friends and families get together on a yearly basis to watch the spectacle on television (and not to mention the new, improved, and sometimes comical Superbowl commercials).
You may be thinking how in the world the Superbowl is related to satisfied Mill Products customers. Well for one, whichever team wins this game will be completely ecstatic. The team, along with its players, will go down in the history books. However, it’s not as simple as showing up and playing on Sunday. There is a tremendous amount of preparation these teams go through in the weeks leading up to the game. From a physical standpoint, players must first take care of their bodies (i.e. physical therapy, resting) so that they are as healthy as possible going into the game. Many coaches have even adopted a sports science approach by personalizing their players’ diets according to their body types. Its purpose is to maximize the players’ endurance during play. Next, from a mental standpoint, coaches and players will review massive amounts of video of their opponent in order to develop a plan of attack that gives them a competitive advantage during the contest.
This brings me to the other side – Mill Products customers. In order to get happy and referenceable Mill Products customers, much time and effort must be exerted. The SAP team must truly understand the customer’s strategy, align solutions to that strategy, prove the value, validate a strategic roadmap with the customer, and create a true governance model for the future. This collaboration and close partnership must continue during the preparation phases and even after the respected project go-lives. The goal is to deliver projects that are on-time, on-budget, and on-value. Ultimately, this is what leads to happy and satisfied customers.
Much like coaches with their players, salespeople must be able to connect with their customers in meaningful ways in order to for them to take their preferred action (i.e. buy software licenses). Storytelling is an effective technique to connect with your customers in more profound ways. Michael Margolis, Founder and CEO of Get Storied (which specializes in transitional storytelling for many Fortune 500 companies), exclaimed at Ariba Live 2013 that “If you learn how to frame the right story that engages your suppliers, you can turn them into true believers. When people can identify with your story as their own, the need to persuade, convince, or sell disappears.” Of course, this could apply to whoever may be your audience (suppliers, customers, prospects, players, etc). Michael’s statement may seem like common sense, however common sense is not always common practice. Sometimes it is difficult to storytell in an
effective manner since we are in the confines of our own thoughts, ideals, etc. For example, simply stating we (SAP) can help customers communicate safety issues and enable subject matter experts to report, investigate, correct, and prevent incidents is one thing. However, how could we pitch our Incident Management and end-to-end solution in a more meaningful way to the customer by which they internalize and make it their own? Taking a step back to really understand how to connect with your customer or player in the most profound way possible is critical to success. As Michael goes on to say, “The story is your ultimate currency. You are trading on your story. This is why people buy your message or buy your solution.”
Below are six questions any audience will subconsciously answer as you engage them.
- Motivations: Who is this story really serving?
- Audience: Does this story relate to what’s on my mind?
- Stakes: Why should I care?
- Trust: How can I believe you?
- Empathy: Do you understand my pain?
- Relationship: What can I be part of? Do I belong in this story you are telling?
M.A.S.T.E.R is a good frame of reference, and these questions are beneficial to ask even yourself when crafting your story. Ultimately, it is how you make your customers feel that will determine success rates.
To conclude, who will win the Superbowl on Sunday remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain, both teams will be fully prepared. Whichever coaching staff conveys their story in the most personal of ways and whichever team internalizes and executes their coaches’ game plan will be victorious. As for the SAP sales teams, it is their responsibility to lead their Mill Products customers throughout their journey, so they are victorious in all of their software-enabled initiatives and ultimately, execute against their strategy.