We have all been in those customer meetings where each of your slides are greeted with a deafening silence from the customer.
The glass half full part of you would like to think that the customer is “all good”!
However, your inner doubting Thomas, keeps you second guessing on how the meeting went?!
There could be Five reasons for a silent customer in a meeting, that you need to be worried about :-
1. Lack of Interest – A Silent Customer is generally a sign that they do not care much for your current product or your service. You need to read the laid back body language and the bored expressions early into the meeting , and focus on the “what’s in it for me” aspect to get their interest back.
2. Your “Headache, not mine” – Typically for Services Customers, where the customer is not keen to listen to the status of the delivery of your service offering (e.g. A Software Deployment Project) – it is generally a sign that they want you to go and fix the issues – its not their problem – they are paying for your product/service and you need to go and make sure all of it works at the end! Not so! You need to ensure that the customer wakes up, and smells the reality coffee. There are a lot of activities in your product or service that would need the intervention of the customer, and you need to drive that behaviour of partnership all through the relationship.
3. Lack of Sponsorship – a quiet customer meeting is usually one that does not involve the project sponsor (the guy who signs the check!). Critical Meetings without the customer sponsor removes a critical element of seriousness of the meeting and tents to put a lot of critical decisions on hold, and typically end up in delaying the deployment.
4. Cultural – In a lot of cultures, especially Asian , the customer is usually not outspoken , and also do not speak up in front of their superiors and/or in a crowd. For such cases, its best to foster an individual relation at every level of the customer organization , and you may get a more honest and audible feedback in a 1:1 situation.
5. Time for Change – if a customer is not providing any constructive feedback or not responding – there is a high change that they have decided to change the product or service. Make sure you have your ears to the ground and act fast in such a case before its too late.
On conclusion, in the business world – the saying No News is Good News – does not hold much water. If a Customer is silent – then its better that you get a bit worried, and kill the decay immediately!
So what are you waiting for – get out there and start talking to your customer!!
Article by Sourov Roy