Do we really talk the same language as our customers?
The first requirement in any relationship is to communicate.
I was talking to a friend who runs a group for new migrants coming into their community. Most don’t speak English at all, often not one word. She made it abundantly clear to me how hard it is to form a relationship if you can’t talk to each other. Things we often take for granted in starting a friendship are impossible, even simple chats about the weather, sport, enquiries about kids; nothing can happen without a common language. In this situation for my friend, both parties now put the question and answer into Google translate and listen to the answer. The gap is bridged!
In our world, although perhaps less obviously, the lack of a common language also creates barriers to a productive relationship. Manufacturer and Retailer come from a different “place” and talk about different things in different ways. Confusingly sometimes the languages sound the same, but meanings are different.
A retailer talks about growth. He probably means “more shoppers in my store spending more”; on anything. A manufacturer talks about “growth” she probably means shoppers are buying my brand instead of others or at least spending more just in “my” category. As salespeople, it’s our job to “learn the lingo” of our customers, not the other way round. Its called selling for a reason, right? So we need to think and talk the way the retailer does.
But what’s our equivalent of Google Translate?? I’d assert it’s shopper metrics. Measures and data both parties can agree are important and useful to underpin conversations about what needs to be done. Objective facts that measure the right matters. And one thing I think is key here is we need to talk holistically about the retailer and not just talk about our narrow, myopic brand or category viewpoint. Do you agree?