In the second post in this series covering the ALIGNED framework for growing your business I will cover the second stage ‘Learn their situation and desires’.
|L||Learn their situation and desires|
|I||Injuries and pains|
|N||Nirvana – the Well-Formed Outcome|
|D||Decide or die|
You know your prospective customer has identified that they want a solution, but you don’t have enough information yet. It may be that they don’t have enough information yet either. The ALIGNED process is designed to enable both of you to really understand what the ideal solution would be. The process of jointly identifying the desired solution, the full benefits it will bring, and the pain it will take away is the basis of building a strong and mutual commitment to a solution. If the process leads to a mutual understanding that you cannot provide the best solution on this occasion, you will still have built a stronger relationship which may deliver benefits later.
It may be that your prospective customer hasn’t given the time to think through the result they really want. If they had a magic wand, how would they use it? If their wildest dreams came true, how would that be for them? Encourage them to remove all the practicalities that might limit their imagination about what they would really want. Allow and encourage them to dream big. Your focus should be on connecting them with what they would really like to hear, see and feel (and possibly taste and smell) in the future. Do not rush here; rather let them build and build and build. Make sure you are really listening. Clear your mind of any other thoughts than what they are telling you through their words and body language. It is important to use the exact words they use as it really demonstrates you are listening and understanding as if you were in their shoes, and not translating their words into your language. Subtle matching of their body language is also useful, if it remains imperceptible.
While building their Big Dream with them, tease out what they have tried and what the results have been. At this stage, don’t go into too much detail in establishing their problems; and keep well away from presenting, or even formulating, your solution. Focus on them and what they want. Focus on building the rapport and relationship you have with them. Focus on being interested and curious. The quality of your listening will improve the quality of their thinking. Really! Try it.
While building their Big Dream with them, tease out what will become possible for them when their Big Dream becomes reality. What is the value to them? Again, build this value with them. If they could solve this problem, how would their lives be? Don’t just focus on the removal of problems; in the ‘L’ of ALIGNED, encourage them to describe what positive things they could be doing instead. For example, they might have a problem with the number of great conversations they have with their customers that don’t lead to the customer ordering from them. They feel they waste too much of their time in those conversations. If they could solve that problem, they would not only save wasted time (the problem) but they would also make more sales (value to them). This means they would make more profits (value). That would mean they could have a less stressful time in their business (value). A less stressful time would mean more quality time with their loved ones (value). They would be a better parent (value). They would feel good about themselves, they would be seen as successful and others would envy their quality of life. (I hope you get what is going on here – a process of identifying and building value to them – this is the Value Escalator.)
While building their Big Dream with them, express things in the positive and, by modelling this positive outlook, encourage them to also express things in the positive. Their statements of what they want should be positive, not negative. Negativity can, and will, come later. In this part of the conversation you want to emphasise movement towards a positive goal with high value, not movement away from a problem.
When they are finished building and describing their Big Dream(s), summarise and recap using their words and phrases. Ask them if they think you have expressed things exactly as they intended. Don’t rush, don’t overly summarise and do not destroy the value you have created through having taken the time to build value, by helping them to express what they truly want. You have taken the time and considerable effort to understand them, so let them have the opportunity to appreciate your efforts.
In the next post, we’ll cover ‘Injuries and Pains’.