Author – Russell Bourne 10/13/2021
Readers, we’re into October, and just as my last September article was about non-scary things, brace yourselves now. This one is going full Halloween, because not only is it scary, it’s in a disguise.
I’m talking about the sneaky bad-news phrase a customer can say to you: “We’re good”.
It’s a little like this:
“We’re good” can rarely be taken at face value. If you’re at the end of a long, difficult call in which a customer has unwrapped the mummy, laid all the guts out on the table in a thoroughly open way... and you’ve made them feel heard, you made progress in their opinion, you’re asking if there’s anything else, and you’re sure they would tell you if there was… if all those things are true, maybe you can believe “we’re good”.
Otherwise, “we’re good” is an objection, plain and simple. It might even mean they're planning to churn and don't want to tell you. But, it’s what we want to hear, and if we’re exhausted or we have happy ears, we might take it, knowing not so deep down we shouldn’t. In fact, it often comes at the very beginning of a proactive call.
So, how do you get past it? You go take a page from the Sales handbook and re-use some discovery questions. Remember, this isn’t exactly like selling, as you’re not trying to undermine the incumbent product (you). The similarity is, you’re trying to do 2 things: 1) find pain (with your solution) so you can solve it before it gets bad, and 2) identify and engage with new contacts.
The key to finding pain is to ask open-ended questions, and then, let them answer. No leading, no prompting, no interrupting. A few examples of questions you might ask:
- What has changed since we last talked?
- How did you get involved in xyz? -or- How did xyz end up as your responsibility?
- Who do you depend on for xyz?
- What would you like to see improved?
- How do you measure that?
Hopefully their answers will get them to think more and open up, and you’ll be able to flow naturally with questions that tell you how they’re really experiencing your solution. If you can’t find a good follow-up question, you can always default to the classics, but be careful not to sound scripted:
- Tell me more about xyz
- Can you give me an example?
- How are you doing xyz today?
Finding and Engaging Contacts
The answers to the pain questions - especially the first 3 - may include names. If you don’t already have those names in your contact list, ask about them. Who are they, how do you work together, what do they think, and so on. You might find new decision makers, influencers, detractors, or coaches among them, and these are important parts of the landscape to understand. Ask for warm introductions. The first time you speak with a new contact, they will almost surely not give the “all good”. If you find a detractor, it may be true that the customer is all good - but you as a vendor are not!
One other point about good open-ended questions: don’t be afraid to use one as the very first thing you say when the “work” part of the customer call starts. “We’re good” can be self-inflicted if you start with a throwaway question like “How’s everything going?” or “Just checking in…’.