Sales is about catering your company’s solutions to the specific challenges that are relevant to their current situation. There is no better way to lose a prospect’s attention then to talk about subjects that aren’t relevant to them.
I was reviewing a PowerPoint presentation the other day in preparation for an important print sales meeting. The slide I was stuck on included eight bullets that ranged from “our technology is 100% responsive (mobile-friendly)” to “Integrated fulfillment.” I was trying to connect the overall topic of this meeting with each of the eight bullet points on the page. It wasn’t going well. I felt like I was reading a smorgasbord list that combined features of the software tools, aspects of the way the printer operated, and other miscellaneous unconnected features that didn’t obviously relate to this specific customer or meeting (e.g. something about color management).
I’m always skeptical of my first reaction to things because I know first reactions are rooted in built-in bias and pre-judgments that I’m not fully aware of. I spent a good amount of time looking at this slide. Then I did the shift that allows me to disregard my opinion—I thought of the primary decision maker who would be in that room reading/listening to this content. What would she think about the content on this slide?
The customer/prospect’s only job is to think of how this purchasing decision impacts me and my organization? What’s in it for me? My job in preparing the slides was to crawl inside the customer’s head and think about the sales pitch from their perspective. The first customer filter that hits is “relevancy” does this piece of information have any relevancy to me and the decision I’m about to make?
I think a lot of people in sales fail to take the customer’s relevancy filter into consideration because it would cut down on a lot of talking, a lot of content, and the result would be a much more focused sales strategy. When sales is insecure, they believe more is better. When you’re in the more-is-better camp, your sales approach is like a dump truck of features. They are presenting in lengthy presentations and/or talked about in rapid-fire feature monologues.
When this happens; it is easy to recognize it. This is where customers/prospects have a built-in defense mechanism because they have lived through so much of this. They turnoff, ignore, tune-out as soon as their relevancy filter sends up its first alert. We are here at a meeting to discuss software that will solve our marketing distribution challenges and this guy is talking about color management? I’m going to check my email.
The danger in presenting irrelevant information in a sales process is that once you lose the customers attention, you might not get it back when you find yourself back to benefits that are relevant. Three relevant benefits are far superior than eight features. It is very important to understand the difference between a benefit and a feature. A feature is a characteristic of your business or technology; for example, our web-to-print solution is 100% responsive (meaning it adapts “responds” elegantly based on the screen you are accessing it on). This is a feature. You should not talk about this because it forces your customer/prospect to do the work of figuring out why this might be a good thing.
Don’t make your customers work; spoon-feed them benefits that show them you are paying attention and you understand their specific needs.
The benefit to the customer of a fully responsive web-to-print system is that all their users can efficiently use the technology from any connected device. Give a real-life example: the customers sales representative (target user community for the web-to-print system) is walking into a sales pitch and they can download the collateral they need on their phone. This is a relevant feature. You just spoon-fed the customer; they will easily digest that information and you will keep their attention.
Only sell relevant benefits. This requires you to tailor your sales pitch to each customer. If you are saying the exact same thing to every customer, you are making a lot of assumptions about their challenges. Customers want to be heard. Customers want their partners to understand their unique challenges. Nothing frustrates a customer more in a sales process then a sales person who makes incorrect assumptions without asking any questions. You can’t sell relevant benefits without doing the work of learning about the customer’s challenges.