Rule #3 – It's Not About Your Product
(from 42 Rules to Increase Sales Effectiveness)
The products sold in the marketplace, whether to businesses or consumers, are broad in scope, complexity and value. As salespeople we are selling commercial and consumer products both domestically and globally, including financial products, real estate, home and personal products, hardware and software solutions, consulting and professional services, to individuals and businesses large and small and ranging from tens to thousands to many millions of dollars in value. In our selling jobs, the products we sell are great, cool, fun, helpful, worthy, comprehensive, leading-edge, powerful and awesome. We spend many hours getting trained on them, learning their features and benefits and being able to articulate use-cases and even demonstrate them ourselves.
It’s very easy to become focused on the value of our products.
While we’ve learned in Rule 2 that “It’s not about you,” I can tell you with assurance that to be effective in sales, it’s also not about your products. You might be saying, “But my product really is helpful for businesses and streamlines operations while cutting costs, and it comes in blue.” This may all be true, but it’s really beside the point. This is one of the toughest lessons for us salespeople to learn.
Certainly we need to know and understand our products and services, as well as articulate the benefits and value they bring to our prospects and customers. But as we will discuss further in Rule 4, our customers have far deeper concerns that are either on the surface clear for all to see, or hidden or even stuffed beneath layers of covering.
Of course our products may help and come to the rescue, fixing issues of which our customers were perhaps not fully aware. Again, while not irrelevant, they are only props within a scene in a bigger play. Until we recognize that, we will consistently fall into a trap of focusing our conversations too much on our great products and services, to the detriment of fully providing problem-solving solutions to our customers.
Indeed, for many reps today, the strong tendency is to speak about their products too much and too soon.
Jerry, one of the better producing reps on an enterprise sales team, was technically adept and knowledgeable. He prided himself in quickly closing business and moving on to new opportunities. His numbers bore this out. He was one of the top reps in transaction quantity, if not in average deal size. In listening and following Jerry on sales calls, it was clear that Jerry knew his products well and got to them as subject matter quickly in his sales calls and conversations. The customers didn’t mind because the product was one that when demonstrated rated a high “wow factor” – that is, it quickly impressed and interested customers. Jerry was adept at following up with price quotes and moving the deal to closure.
This is all well and good except when one considers the opportunity lost in his hurry to close business and move on. When Jerry was taught to restrain from discussing and demonstrating the product too soon and spend appropriate time (note, not necessarily too much time, mind you, in his environment) exploring the application of his product to other departmental seats and broader implementation within the IT environment, he increased his average deal size by almost 25%.
Likewise, with those selling less complicated products, while our products are great, our focus still needs to be on the simple use or application of our product. The point is that the product is not the focus, rather it is the application of the product as it addresses the issues, needs and problems of the customer.
Do you speak about your products too much and too soon?