James E. Laero marketing / communications / business development


Find the WHAT and WHY

There was a funny commercial running on TV recently featuring a young boy repeatedly asking the question, "Why?" to his adult neighbor who was washing his car in the driveway. Each time the adult answered his question, the boy would only ask, "Why?" again.

The "WHY," along with the, "WHAT," are important business development tools. They open the door to product and service improvement and innovation. In marketing they are key to sharpening your message for optimal effect.

Here are a few suggestions on when to ask what and why:

1. Before and during the proposal/presentation process.

Why exactly did this potential client move to seek these services or products? Not the technical reason(s) but rather the actual need or desire. And this is not always easy to get out of the potential client. Most clients are only comfortable stating budgetary or project-related motives. Often the real issues are personal, such as prestige or job security. The only way to dig that deep is to have a sincere conversation with the client. But it is worth it because the real WHY of it will ultimately influence the real choice of a provider.

What exactly should you include in your proposal/presentation to both fulfill the stated specifications and the underlying driving factors that will influence decision makers? This goes back again to digging for the WHY. What is really motivating your potential buyer? Is it price, prestige, security? Take time to dig a little deeper into the what. Most clients welcome phone inquiries for details. It shows you care.

2. If you win, or lose, the sale/contract.

Win or lose you need to know why you won or lost, what you did well, and what you can improve. This not only improves your message but keeps your delivery fresh as well. If you win, ask why they chose you. Conversely, if you lose ask why they chose your competitor. Ask what they liked about your company and proposal. Ask what you could have done better. And finally, if you lost, ask if they would be receptive to giving you another chance in the future. Don't hard sell. Don't let your disappointment burn any bridges. Just ask if they would invite you back. This shows the client that you are an understanding professional.

There are of course many more times to find the WHAT and WHY, but these two are powerful in moving your marketing and business development efforts forward.

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