SPIF Tip #55: Taking A Ride Without A Map
I love the stories of my wife’s childhood summers with her Aunt Dean and Uncle Lou on tiny Wixom Lake in Michigan.
On my first visit there, she showed me the little motorboat they all had so much fun in. Lou suggested I take it for a spin. What a delightful idea.
The water was like glass. Opening the throttle on the little outboard, I cut out across the lake. I’ll never forget the scenery, the sound, and feel of the boat.
Then, BOOM! The boat twisted to the left with a sickening screech.
“SHIT!” I said, shutting off the motor.
No water was leaking in. I was near the middle of the lake. How could it be shallow? Over the side, nothing was visible.
Something behind caught my eye. A tree stump lurking below the surface. Then, another. From a few yards away they were invisible.
A dam on the Tittabawasse River created Wixom. Trees that once stood on its bank were now below the surface. The locals knew where to look for them. I didn’t have their map.
The Territory is Always Changing
A lake is something like your company’s market. When enough customers need what you do it can be an easy ride. But, circumstances do change. Most of the time, gradually. Sometimes, suddenly.
“If the urgencies would only let up, I wish I could talk to a bunch of my customers.” That was Bill, a past client. I asked what he wanted to know. We discussed what his customers were like for some time. In the end he said, “I guess what we want to know is,
- What changes are they seeing in their customers?
- What have they learned about their business?
- What do they think we might do to help them?”
Bill had been stewing with this idea in his head for a while. His customers seemed very focused on the short term. That made it hard to learn how their needs might change in the future.
Bill’s perspective was different. He saw the progression from his customer’s customers to their businesses to his business. He knew the contours of the map.
We are all dealing with real urgencies. We also need to extend our view beyond the current chapter and the next one.
Then Bill said, “Lots of people around here are anxious for things to get back to normal. The thing is, I’m not so sure that is going to happen.”
When There’s No Map for the Territory, How Do You Create One?
Are you wondering how your customer’s business may be changing? Can you help them think about how their customers may be changing?
This won’t be a typical sales conversation.
I’ll go there in my next post.
P.S. Are you similar to Bill? What concerns or obstacles do you see in learning this kind of information? If I can help you think through it, give me a call (770) 410-1601 Eastern Time.
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