There is something salespeople do that makes selling more difficult. They don’t mean to do it, and many still don’t know what they should do differently and why what they’re doing makes selling more difficult. What they are doing is leading with their products.
It is easy to get hyped up about your product, especially if you work in a company that develops great products. A lot of the internal conversations are about how the product is better than what came before it and how it is better than any of your competitors. A lot of the company goals cascade down to the sales force and salespeople are measured against these targets. It’s easy to talk about the cool stuff you are creating and even more so when you are measured and rewarded for doing so.
But here is the rub. People don’t want to buy your product or service. This is a point I made in The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need where I quoted Theodore Levitt from Harvard Business School who said, “People don’t want to buy drills. They want to buy quarter-inch holes.” To view what you are doing in sales you have to reverse the order and start with the holes.
When you lead with the product, you are starting the sales conversation at Level 1, which is product and features and benefits and advantages. This works against you because I haven’t yet agreed that I need the holes that your drill produces. Worst still, I may already be getting the holes I need from the drill I have now. When you lead from what I call Level 4, which is strategic, you lead with the idea that the client needs better holes, they need to improve the speed at which they produce those holes, they need holes that better serve their clients, holes that allow them to increase their profits, holes that help to capture greater market share or holes that position them to move their organization to a place where they can leap to some new type of hole altogether.
Outcomes drive solutions. Outcomes drive the choice of product. But most important is that fact that outcomes drive the need to change, a result that is more difficult for product alone.
Like a lot of things, you need to reverse what you are doing to produce greater results. To go faster, slow down. To make producing results easier, do what is most difficult. And to sell more product, sell the outcomes instead.
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