What are your customers’ real needs, and what makes them choose your solution? The answer isn't always obvious, but thankfully we have Start it @KBC mentor and sales guru Rene Knecht to help shed some light on the subject. He and co-founder of CO2Tutor, Daria Shcherbak joined forces to dig into the theme of customer discovery.
It starts with change
Like many startups, CO2Tutor decided to start up to change something in society. “We started as a result of a hackathon,” explains Daria. “We wanted to raise awareness about the importance of indoor air quality, which has an enormous effect on human health and on brain functioning and development.” They did this by designing and building devices that measure indoor air quality using various indicators, including CO2.
Well guess what, says Rene: customers want changes too. “People don’t buy solutions: they buy change, a transformation,” he says. “They are going through changes themselves and need to adapt to their environment or to their customers.” The startup’s challenge: to show customers that they are the one who will help them do it.
Your biggest competitor is the status quo
It might seem pretty simple: customers are looking for a quality product, or for a solution to the problem they’re looking for. Right? According to Rene it’s a little more complicated than that. “If you want a new job, you first need to decide to leave your current employer.”, “If you want a new home, you need first to decide to move. ”he says - this is the real Motivation - - of your customer. “If your customer wants your service or solution, they first need to decide that what they currently have isn’t good enough anymore (this is the real reason that clients move). They need to re-evaluate decisions made in the past that contributed to their current status quo.”
Selling is actually a change management process, as Rene sees it. Your biggest competitor is the status quo: doing nothing or doing the same things again and again. Aha! So what keeps the customer in the status quo? And how do we get them to re-evaluate it? “We do this by letting the customer reflect on their past decisions,” says Rene. “You make the status quo up for discussion by asking questions about how and why they chose this way of working.”
Daria has gained some key insights into what keeps prospects in the status quo in CO2Tutor’s market: “Our target audience has been made aware of the importance of indoor air quality by the pandemic we’ve been having,” she reflects. “So many people now know about the health side effects of being in confined spaces with regards to CO2 and Covid. However, people don’t necessarily think about the broader implications and long-term health effects.”
The Gold is in the answers
As Rene explains, we can ask potential customers questions on their status quo indirectly: for example, by asking them how they chose their suppliers, how they landed their first customers or how they became involved in a certain project. The important thing isn’t the factual response, but the story that unfolds about processes, decisions and expectations. “There you will find the buying opportunity, the real reason they aren’t satisfied today,” says Rene. “You will discover how the customer makes decisions and the link with all the changes and transformations in their environment. That is your GOLD. Don’t give it away!”
So how do we turn these golden insights into actual gold? “The seller guides the client through the choice of ‘change’ or ‘no change’,” explains Rene. “Hunting, cold acquisition or the process of recruiting new clients essentially means breaking patterns. The client will have to consider a new solution or a new supplier, and will need to make a final decision: to change or not to change.”
And how does CO2Tutor build their story to inspire change? “As founders, we have had a tendency to focus on our offerings: why our product is so great. This is not our customer’s first concern,” says Daria. “The real reason customers are open to our solutions is because they are confronted with changes in responsibility as parents, school managers or facility managers. By using the language of change and transformation you have a different conversation. That is the language we use on our website: the customer must feel that we are talking about them.”
Show me the exchange money
Have you ever spent an hour looking for your keys, but have no trouble spotting a mosquito in the room? It’s human nature: we are wired to pick up on changes and threats to our status quo, our survival and growth. If we can make customers aware that there are changes in their environment that threaten their survival or growth, they will listen, insists Rene: “That is your exchange money to sit at the table with your prospects.” For example, you could make your customer aware that their market is changing, and they need to take another approach. Or you could share insights about changes in technology or the economy that will influence their business: things to which you have an answer. “If you are selling a transformation, you will motivate customers to move,” sums up Rene.
What answers on changes and transformations is CO2Tutor bringing to the table? “Covid changed the way we think about indoor air quality,” says Daria. “Facility managers basically had to turn into health and safety managers, and measuring CO2 has become compulsory in many public places. Our prospects are working in a world where their position on air quality impacts their processes and competitiveness.” CO2Tutor aims to help their customers address these questions and future-proof their organizations. “Sending the message that your organization puts the health of their customers and partners first is a strategic position in the B2B market and in the war for talent,” Daria concludes.
Do you need some insight on customer discovery, or any other topic to help build your business? Our mentors have the answers! Check outhttps://startit-accelerate.com/en/mentors and what they specialize in.