Those of us who run small to medium businesses tend to be hugely passionate about what we do, and extremely keen to offer value to our clients. We KNOW we can help them achieve more, if only we could get in front of the right person, or get them to understand what we do.
Passion is great, and is one of the things I love about meeting people at networking events who are there to share what they do. However we all have to sell, and that is sometimes where we get stuck.
There are a couple of things that can happen here:
- We talk about how great our product or service at length. However this tends to be about its features – how innovative it is, how many offices we have, the depth of experience or expertise involved. Sadly though, our potential clients probably don’t care about much of this. They care about what we can do for them.
- We make assumptions about what will appeal to our potential customers, and this is often based on what appeals to us. This is quite natural – after all, we’ve been buying for ourselves for a lifetime. Again though, that doesn’t really matter to the client.
People buy for their reasons, not yours!
Also, buying decisions are rarely made entirely rationally. They are influenced by a wide variety of factors which even the buyer may not be aware of. To use two extremely general examples, think about men and cars, or women and shoes (or the other way around, if you don’t want to be sexist). How often are these purchasing decisions made based entirely on sensible, rational needs?
That may seem obvious, but how often do you take time to really find out about your potential client’s business, needs and wants before you offer a solution? And I mean really find out. Only then will you be able to present the features of your product or service that are relevant.
But more importantly, you will be able to present the benefits of your product or service, in the context of your client’s business. The benefit is the ‘so what’. If a doctor prescribes a pill for you, you may be interested in its composition, how innovative it is, and how many years research went into it, but more likely you want to know how you’ll feel after you take it. Your clients are the same.
So when you’re next in a selling situation, stop ‘selling’, and start understanding. Ask lots of questions so you can fully understand the outcomes the client is looking for (and maybe even help them understand), then present only the features that are relevant. Finally, clearly articulate the benefits the client will achieve from your product or service – the ‘so what’. If you’ve asked enough questions, they’ll have given you the answer already.