Live By Your Products, Die By Your Products!


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We’re in love with our products.  At the drop of a hat, we will wax on endlessly about features, functions, feeds, speeds, and, of course, price.

We get all hot and lathered about the product and want to get our prospects and customers hot and lathered about our products.

The good news, if that’s what the customer cares about, and they have a few million idle dollars hanging around, they might buy our products.

But here’s where we struggle.  Not a lot of folks have idle money hanging around.  So they can’t buy our products, regardless how hot and lathered we get them.

Guess what, we lose!

But there’s a bright spot, customers are letting their fingers walk through Google’s pages.  They are doing their research on our products, and our competition.  By the time we get ahold of them, their issue has become all about our products–and the competitors.

By then, we’re limited to, “My product is better than their products!  We have 76 features, 43 functions, lots of feeds, plenty of speed, and we are cheaper than them!  Buy mine!”  We might have the bestest, hottest product on the market—today.

Then tomorrow comes, and the competitors introduces a product that has 77 features, 44 functions, more feeds then you care about, is turbo-charged, and cheaper…….

Then the next day comes, another competitor introduces another product that has 78 features, 45 functions, …..

Guess what, we may win one day, but the next day and the next day and the next day, we lose…  Because their product is better than our product.

By making it about the product, we make the customer make it about the product.  Then you see the Excel spread sheets.  You know the one’s that I’m talking about.  The one’s that have a 100 rows of features, 50 rows of functions.  Then there are the columns, each of our competitors.  Finally, there are the “X’s”  We hope we have more X’s than anyone else.

Guess what, if we don’t have more X’s, we lose!

Or we’ve gotten the customer hot–not quite lathered.  The customer kind of likes our product, but says, “The competitor has this really cool feature, and a couple of intriguing functions…….  Can you do it?”

We run to engineering, pleading “Please, please, please….”  They may do it one or two times, but over time they realize they’ve suddenly moved off of developing the 79 feature and 46th function and have become a custom product house.  So they say no.

Guess what, our product doesn’t have what the customer wants, we lose!

If we make it all about our products, we will never win–at least consistently.  We can be successful with the customer only:

  • If they have the money sitting around waiting to be spent on products.
  • And our product is the best product they can find on the day they make their decision.  (We win the “X’s” battle.)

Otherwise, we struggle, we may make our numbers some days, but not every day, and when our competitor announces something new, we lose more frequently.

But that’s only the simplest part of living and dying by the product.

Today’s customer doesn’t care!  They don’t have time for that.  They don’t have time to fill Excel spreadsheets with “X’s”

They’re consumed with their own businesses, how they make their own numbers and goals.  They’re struggling to make sense of their own jobs, day to day.

Having 77 features and 44 functions doesn’t tell them how those features and function solve their problems.  They’re left to figure that out themselves.  But they don’t have the time to do that, so they don’t.

Guess what, we lose, again!

But the magic happens when we change how we sell.  When we don’t make our products the center of attention , choosing instead to make the customer the center of attention, our win rates sky rocket.

Making the conversation all about the customer, their goals, their dreams, their challenges, their problems and challenges is key.

That has a number of advantages, first and foremost, it’s what they care about–that’s cool.

But in a selfish way, thinking about our interests as sales people, the conversation with the customer changes, it’s no longer about our products.  They don’t care if we have the 79th feature and 46th function.  So we don’t have to have more than our competition.  We don’t have to have that one really cool feature, or two nice to have functions.

The customer doesn’t care about the number of features and functions, all the want to know is, “Can we help them solve their problems?”  “Can we help make them successful?”  “Can we help put sanity in their lives?”

They no longer are developing comparative checklists about features, functions, feeds, and speeds to see who has more.  They want to understand how we help them solve their problems.

Making selling about the customer, helping them solve their problems is all about improving our win rates.

We no longer have to have the best and cheapest.  We no longer have to worry about the competitor that has one more.

All we have to do is focus on the customer.  We have to be the one’s helping them understand their problems, giving them the confidence we can help them solve their problems, and our products are the vehicle for doing this.

Live by your products, you will die by your products.

Live by solving your customers’ problems, you will have no end of customer problems to solve!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


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