My college roommate was, and still is, a music fanatic. I guess I’m dating myself, but back then he was a member of all the mail-order music clubs...and we had stacks of CD's sitting everywhere. That collection was his prized possession. He listened to everything from Bob Marley to Smashing Pumpkins to Willie Nelson to Snoop Dogg.
I was just along for the ride, as I never could justify buying a whole album when I only liked one or two songs. It turned out to be a point of disagreement between us. To him, listening to just one or two songs was merely dabbling in the music. He believed in the deep dive and would always tell me...you have to listen to the whole album to appreciate the band's music.
All these years later I’ve thought about his songs versus albums stance while considering the best strategies around enterprise account management and executive engagement. And I realized that it actually also made sense in the context of sales and marketing. To be successful, you really do have to listen to the whole album. Here’s why:
You can’t just skim the LinkedIn profile of a potential customer and be ready for a business conversation, any more than you can listen to a single song and credibly convince fans you know what the album or the band is all about. When it comes to moving the needle with your priority accounts, you need to understand the business priorities and challenges of the leaders in the C-Suite—information that is seldom found on LinkedIn. Researching their business strategy, initiatives and challenges is necessary in order to identify the role you and your company can play in helping to move your customer’s business forward.
Listening to the whole album—or having deep insight about your potential customer—gives you and your team the confidence to ask smarter, more targeted questions that show you care enough to have done your homework. This shows that you’re not just in it for a quick deal; you are interested in being a long-term, trusted partner.
Get to know and understand the contributions of the “players” in the “band” and how they collaborate. Many enterprise sales pros just look at the LinkedIn profile of the person they’re meeting with—and leave it at that. Top performers seek insight on the C-Suite players and then demonstrate how they are going to help accomplish their goals. Doing this allows serious account managers to engage higher, identify bigger opportunities, and win bigger deals.
Knowing what’s top-of-mind in the C-Suite helps you craft a more relevant story for that customer. Executive time is precious and you can only keep their attention for so long. Being relevant shows you respect their limited time. Knowing the whole album—heck, knowing all their albums—helps you craft a story that will resonate with your audience.
With today’s technology, it’s easier than ever to cherry pick songs and skip the whole album. Similarly, tools like LinkedIn also make it easy to skim basic customer information and feel like you have done your homework. But be warned; failing to “listen to the whole album,”—a metaphor for diving deeper into your customer’s strategy and initiatives—could expose you as being unprepared for the type of business conversation that customers expect.
Don’t be caught unprepared.