How to build closer vendor / customer relationships with Shark software

Every salesperson's goal is to have a great relationship with their customer. This article explores how Shark can help to achieve this.

Martin Cowan
April 5, 2022

A customer can sometimes be reluctant to engage in a discussion about the business impact of a solution and this could signal that they are not really that serious about your offer. Maybe they are just “fishing” for ideas, or perhaps they are seeking competitive quotations to make up the numbers. However, it may be for other reasons. They may have had a previously bad experience of having a business case built for them, which took up too much of their time and they got nothing meaningful in return. They may not know where to begin with building a business case or maybe you haven’t properly articulated the value of your solution and the value engagement journey you want to take them on.

The best way to uncover the customer or prospect’s true motive is to initially provide an outline of the effort and approximate time needed for a call or meeting and explain that the primary focus will be the exploration of the impacted value drivers. You could also send them examples of the reports they will get in return (or simply explain what they are and what will be included).

For vendors, the trick is to forget about your offering and get inside the head of the customer and understand what is really going on inside their business - don’t just focus on your solution. We all like to talk about our own products but this change in the psychology of the sale will really help you find out what the customer wants to achieve.

It’s all about collaboration and engagement, nobody likes to be sold something without first identifying what it will do for them, but the fear of the unknown can be a real blocker from both sides. The vendor is afraid the business case will be “negative”, and the customer may feel pressurised by the vendor desperately trying to prove something is positive by using “smoke and mirrors”. (For example, a classic method is for the vendor to create a complex spreadsheet that is hard to follow.)

So, what can you do?

Using Shark software, you have a different and more interactive way to free up the conversation and help the customer understand the value you can offer. Together the vendor and customer can investigate the problems that the business is trying to solve. If the customer is really interested in your solution, they become actively involved and will start to suggest the problems that could be solved and provide insight into the associated business benefits. The great thing is that you can concentrate on the benefits and not worry about remembering to ask the right questions or how the maths should work – Shark will provide all that. Once the customer sees the potential benefits in the familiar Shark matrix (copyrighted design), they will actively want to talk about their business needs and possibly others that you could solve.

Shark is not a complex spreadsheet, its transparent and easy to follow, and it helps to create a collaborative bond between the vendor and the customer to help find the optimal business case. Usually, the whole process takes a couple of hours, and it will become clear quite early on if there is no value from the solution. In such cases, both the vendor and the customer have the option of discontinuing the sales engagement and moving on to other opportunities.

However, it is not enough to simply turn up at your customer and present straight from Shark. You have to warm up your prospect so, be prepared. Do your usual research, which may already be done if you are currently in the sales cycle or perhaps you are trying to up-sell an existing client to a cloud migration for example. Check out the customer’s financial statements and strategic aspirations and use these to create a framework to delve deeper by using the Business Case Questionnaire feature within Shark. By doing this, neither you nor the customer are surprised by any questions that arise. It will also allow the customer the opportunity to gather any information or data that they don’t know before the meeting, so they are fully prepared when you are building the business case.

Another way of putting the customer at ease is to suggest using the completed business case as snapshot of what benefits can be expected. Of course, things change, and some benefits may take longer than expected to realise or they may vary from the initially agreed improvements. Remember, business cases should evolve and change as both you and your customer gain confidence in what could be achieved from the solution in the future. By using the original and credible case as a baseline, a second case can be offered post-installation to compare aspirations with achievements and focus both parties on suitable actions at a later review date. The comparison feature in Shark really brings this into sharp focus. If this is promised up front, your customer can feel that that they are not being left to fix potential issues by themselves and a sense of shared responsibility for solution success is fostered.

Building business cases may involve anti-sponsors too. These need to be accommodated and you should prepare for what could be uncomfortable situations. You know the type – “my team are the best and the business runs really well as a result.” Well, if that’s the case, concentrate on benefits from other areas. Remember, highlighting unexpected benefits could reveal underperformance and that can lead to a negative response. A good approach is to under-call the benefits which leaves both sponsor and anti-sponsor with room to look good as the solution is rolled out. Always leave them some space to over-achieve! Over-estimating does not serve anybody’s agenda. Shark allows you to delay the benefits which gives everybody time to complete implementation and secure the benefits after roll-out.

One more thing to add is that Shark provides you with an enterprise-grade platform for all your business case engagements so you no longer have to search for the last time you created a purchase justification, and you can control all your business engagements easily. You can relax knowing that Shark will take most of the strain out of any ROI discussions.

What we do

At Shark Finesse we have developed an enterprise-grade cloud application to help businesses standardise and simplify their value engagements across the entire customer journey.

Shark, a business value engagement platform used by 1000’s of customer-facing teams globally (e.g. pre-sales, sales, value teams, and customer success) is easy to use, intuitive and usable directly with the customer to negotiate the likely business returns from investing in a solution.

By adopting the Shark approach you will fundamentally transform conversations with new and existing customers, close more business, and differentiate from the competition.