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You know where your customer’s pain points are, don’t you? It’s a singular customer because even if you are following this process a thousand times over, there is only one customer who matters: the one you are talking to at that moment in time.

The reality is that while some businesses take the time to fully understand those issues on an ongoing basis, most will use the opportunity of the initial sales pitch to fact-find on their customers.

And then assume that those pain points elucidated at that point, never change.

It’s a relationship whereas the provider of goods or services, you ought to adopt the Green Cross Code: stop, look and listen. Oh, and drop the assumptions; treat each customer as a clean slate but never forget what you have been told previously.

Clarity is the byword to providing the solutions which will generate more revenue for yourself. If you understand them, you know where your business fits into the solution.

What are the five steps can you take to achieve this goal?

1.    Ask The Right Questions

It’s all very well sitting down with the customer and asking questions, but if they are the wrong questions, you achieve nothing. Make sure you are clear about what you want to achieve at the end of the process before starting.

Think of it as a route-planning exercise. You know the starting point and you know where you want to be; it’s up to you to make sure you plan the right route to get there.

2.    Listen

The theme of collaboration runs strong throughout this process but that can only work if you are prepared to listen. Key to this is not interrupting the customer’s train of thought as they divulge information to you. Follow-up questions can wait until a natural pause in the conversation.

Most casual conversations turn into a competition to see whose voice can be heard, irrespective of what is right or wrong. This is not casual; always listen, repeating points to indicate you’ve understood or are seeking clarity of an issue.

3.    Don’t Be Afraid

Too often in life, we hesitate when a bold step is required; fear kicks in. With this scenario of finding out customer pain, you cannot afford to be fearful at any step of the way.

When beginning the journey, you should already be confident of being able to provide a solution; just be open-minded what that solution is.

And certainly never be afraid to ask questions along the way. Clarity is the only way to understand how the solution will work.

4.    Collaboration

Never forget this is a collaborative process. The customer may find some therapeutic value in unburdening themselves over pressure points, but they will also be more confident of a solution being delivered if they have input into finding it.

And with the opportunities cloud technologies offer, there is no reason for not collaborating. Sharing information in a cost-effective and secure environment is the very essence of the cloud.

Allowing customer input saves time in the long run and protects the work itself. No need to worry that you are not in the office. Data, plans, documents and drawings can be accessed from anywhere at any time.

5.    Present A Clear Solution

At the end of the process, this is the answer customers want. A clear solution gives the customer the confidence that you listened throughout the entire process and noted their input into the solution.

The destination is reached by successful delivery of the solution and is key to customer retention and claiming repeat business in the

Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

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