(542 words – 5 min)
One sales manager said to me, “Our salespeople show up and throw up.” What he was saying is their salespeople have the product pitch down. They know the company and the products well. Yet talking about the company and the product isn’t enough to win deals.
The sad truth is nobody cares about your product. Your buyers and customers care about what your product can do for them. What problems it will help them solve. What results might they achieve.
This distinction is clearest when differentiating experts from non-experts. Experts buy features because they can translate features into expected benefits. Non-experts buy benefits. You’re likely an expert at buying computers. You’ve probably bought several, and used one almost every day of your life. You know quite a bit. When you go to the computer store to buy a new one, what would you think if the salesperson said to you, “This one does email really well and holds all of your pictures.” You’d be thinking this salesperson is an idiot. You want to know the amount of memory, the size of the hard disk, and the speed of the processor. Because of your experience with computers, you know intuitively what these features mean in terms of performance.
Now imagine you’ve never used a computer in your life. You walk into the computer store and the salesperson says, “This one has a terabyte of SSD, Quad Intel processors running at one gigahertz, and a fourteen-inch display.” You’d be thinking, “What????” Instead, you want someone to tell you what you can do with it. What problems will it solve? What results you should expect.
Here’s the difference. Experts can see a list of product features and translate them into value on their own. Non-experts can’t. Non-experts rely on someone else to help them translate features into benefits. That’s where salespeople come in.
Now for a very important question: Are your buyers experts, or non-experts?
They’re probably non-experts. After all, if your buyers were already experts, then what service do you provide as a salesperson? They can read the spec sheet without you.
A salesperson’s most important role is to help non-experts understand the value their product provides.
Forrester tells us, “Sixty-two percent of vendor salespeople are knowledgeable about their company and its products, but only 22% understand the buyers’ business issues and where they can help.” This means your salespeople probably know your products, but they aren’t selling value.
I’m guilty of this as well. I recall many years ago when I was in sales. My sales technique was listing a bunch of our capabilities to a potential buyer and watching their eyes, just hoping that something I said would resonate. I was hoping they would stop me and say, “That’s really important to me.” Yet it rarely happened. If your technique is even close to mine, we’re showing up and throwing up. We’re talking about our products. We’re hoping the buyer can translate our features into their value.
Great, caring, consultative salespeople take the time to help the client determine the value their product can provide. Buyers don’t care about your product. They care about what problems you solve and what results they might expect.
What’s your experience?