Walking, Talking Product Brochures—Selling Is More Than This

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I don’t know how many sales calls I observe.  Over the course of years, it’s 1000’s.  The majority of them are the same—it’s all about our products.  The typical process looks like:

If there is any discovery, discovery is focused on the customer product needs—what capabilities are they looking for (never the question, “Why are these important to you?”), what products do they currently use, what features are they looking for, what is the target pricing…….

As quickly as possible, sales people get into describing their products, the more “sophisticated,” use a Features, Benefits, Advantages approach, but the conversation is focused on the product.

Usually, at some point, there is “show and tell,”  (Thank goodness we had all that practice in Kindergarten and First Grade!).  It may be a demo, it may be looking at the physical product, usually it’s accompanied by the physical/virtual brochures, case studies, testimonials.  Often, the strategy seems to be focused on quantity, as if the more stuff we can inundate the customer with, the more it will influence the customer to make a decision in our favor.

And of course, that “stuff,” is exactly the same as what the sales people have already talked about.

At some point sales provides a proposal, most of the time it’s a quotation–all the products that are being proposed, listed by line item.  How many of each, the unit price, and the extended price, then the total price.  If the customer is “lucky,” there may be a cover letter with a few meaningless paragraphs about why the product and our company is great and a final paragraph saying, “We look forward to being your partner…”

And then the customer has to make a decision…..

The good news, all our competitors do exactly the same thing.

The customer is left to figure out which product is the best for them–the customer is just looking to solve a problem and achieve goals, but all that’s been presented is information about the products.

In the end, it’s hard to choose, so they resort to the only thing that differentiates the alternatives—price.

To them, the alternatives are the same.  To them, any solution will do–otherwise they wouldn’t have even met with us, so the dilemma becomes, which is the lowest price.

And we wonder……..

“Why don’t customers want to see us?”

“Why do customers say we don’t understand them, their goals, their problems, what they want to achieve, their business, and their markets?”

The problem is too often, we view “selling” as being walking, talking product brochures.  Yes, maybe we can go into a little more than the brochures, maybe we can present the data in a more appealing manner.  Maybe we personalize our presentation by using the customer’s name and company, “Martha, our product comes in 20 different, fashionable colors, to fit into any factory environment Acme Manufacturing has…..”

But that’s not what our customers need, that’s not the “help” our customers are looking for, that’s not what creates value for the customers.

If it were, they can get all that information at a web site or in a brochure.

Yet, that’s what too many sales people do……

Selling is more than being a walking talking product brochure.

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