Whether they’re centered around attracting new customers, growing annual profits, or any other key business metric, goals keep companies moving forward. They focus people’s attention on what matters the most. As such, they’re a driving force behind all decisions—including what to buy and from whom.
To be relevant as a seller, it is vitally important that the solutions you are proposing are aligned with at least one of your customer’s goals. Without that connection, your words will ring hollow in the ears of a buyer who is distracted by more pressing issues.
Instead, you want to know all of your customer’s goals and uncover areas of opportunity that you may not have thought about. Focus on those goals where your solution can have the greatest impact.
Understanding Your Customers’ Goals
Before you can tie your solutions to your customers’ priorities, you need to identify and understand their goals. Many companies define “SMART Goals” for their business objectives, with “SMART” standing for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
What might a SMART Goal look like? Let’s apply SMART to a real-world company, a global Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) company with over $15 billion in revenue.
- Specific: Reduce annual selling, general and administrative expense (SG&A), manufacturing operating costs, and logistics costs.
- Measurable: Realize over $600 million in annual savings.
- Achievable: Company has had successful cost reduction programs in the past, so there is a level of confidence that it can be done again. On a side note, company leaders have made this commitment to investors, so they better deliver!
- Relevant: Profitability has trended down over the last five years. Need to improve profitability to fund higher revenue growth and provide greater returns to shareholders.
- Time-bound: Saving will be achieved within two years and sustainable thereafter.
This SMART Goal provides a huge amount of insight into the company’s motivations and strategy. It tells us what they’re trying to achieve, why they’re doing it, how and when they plan to do it, and even how likely they are to succeed.
As a sales professional, you can then take this information and create sales messaging that speaks specifically to the company’s SMART Goal. Show them how your solution can make it that much easier for them to reach their objectives.
Where Can You Uncover a Company’s Goals?
You might be thinking, that’s great, but I don’t know my customers’ goals.
Fortunately, you don’t have to bluntly ask your contacts at the company about their goals. You can check public sources and learn their goals ahead of a meeting so you can show up prepared to make your case.
The annual report is often a good place to find a company’s goals and strategies. The top executives of a company write a “letter to Shareholders” that provides an overview of the company’s position, achievements related to past goals, and what they are focused on for the future.
Additionally, in regulatory filings such as a Form 10K for companies domiciled in the United States or 20-F for companies not domiciled in the United States but traded in the United States, the Business Overview in this report may define goals and strategies as well. All publicly-traded companies regardless of where they are domiciled and traded are required to file annual and what we call interim reports (quarterly or semiannually) with regulatory authorities.
For even more details about a company’s goals, investor presentations and earnings call transcripts are a good source as well.
Overcome Barriers to Identifying Company-wide Goals
Even if you do identify the company-wide goals, your buyer may not have thought through the process of how to achieve them. This is where you can help, but it’s also where another common barrier appears: sellers worry that understanding the goals of each individual stakeholder—as opposed to simply mastering the details of their product—takes time.
True, identifying goals can take time, but it is well worth the effort since executive buyers expect you to know their goals, especially since those goals are in the public domain. To be as successful as possible in your sales efforts, you need to both know your customers’ goals and connect your solution to them.
Remember, goals are at the core of a business’s decision-making process. They drive buying decisions. It’s well worth your time to identify goals, especially SMART Goals, and uncover everything you can about a buyer’s mindset. If you understand what your customer is trying to achieve, you can tell them how you’ll make the process easier.