You’re in the business of persuasion and influencing. When it comes to those topics there is a whole lot of craziness.
I just went to Amazon. Did you know there are almost 70,000 books on persuasion and influencing? Not only is that overwhelming
But most of it is nonsense.
- Closing techniques
- Power words
- The topics are endless.
Certainly they all have value. However while salespeople strain to learn all of these complex ideas, they are missing the big picture. What should be we be doing and saying if we want to successfully influence buyers?
What is the Occam razor that we can use to cut through the cutter?
Sales messages only come in three forms
Unfortunately most salespeople don’t know the difference between those three things.
I was at a presentation where the speaker become so enthusiastic about his demo that every jot and tittle got discussed. He even said, “if you were a bank you would love this feature” and then to my horror he demoed that feature. The customer was a doctor – not a bank.
Of course the report back to the Sales Manager was that we “hit it out of the park.” Oh, but did the customer buy? No, no he didn’t.
Features are the things your product and service can do.
Benefits are the tangle results that those features produce.
Advantages are the benefits and only those benefits both relevant and desired by the customer.
Take some time and think on the distinctions between features, benefits and advantages. It won’t do you any good or increase your commission checks if you just read these words and fail to act on the message. Advantages seem very close to benefits and benefits are derived from features. However there is a vast difference between them.
Customer’s get bored quickly. There is a small window of time for you to influence them. Remember they are tuned into WIIFM 24×7 – What’s In It For Me.
You probably have a feature rich solution that offers a wide range of benefits to all kinds of markets, businesses and people. However what is the advantage are those things to the person you’re sitting in-front of? Communicate that on every touch point – call, email, voice mail and presentation.
So what are you selling?
- Do you know what the customer wants or needs?
- Do you know want is relevant to the customer’s situation?
- From the long list of feature and benefits of your offering have you whittled your messages down to what is advantageous for that particular buyer?
What it boils down to is knowing your customer and their situation. Period. Then figuring out how you can help.
Strip out everything else.
Please don’t misunderstand me. There are basics that you need to know. Skills that you need to have and be constantly improving
- Rapport building
- Use of language (I mean that is how we communicate isn’t it)
- Conflict resolution
But those are the basics. After that you must craft Advantage Based Messaging. No more feature selling. No more benefit selling. Only relevant ideas that illustrate and inform your prospects to the advantages they will receive from your product and services.
If you need help in any of those areas I recommend “People Skills” by Robert Bolton. Instead of spending hours reading and studying “People Skills” distills influence down into three key areas: good communication, assertion skills and conflict resolution. An excellent resource everyone should read and apply to their selling.
Selling isn’t messaging the sizzle instead of the steak as one very famous author would have you believe. It isn’t about being a “Yes” man and agreeing to everything that comes out of the prospects mouth. Selling certainly isn’t about unrealistic expectations and boastful claims which can never really be accomplished. Leave that to marketing (just kidding all of you marketers out there).
Selling is, as one of my great mentor’s says
Finding out what the customer needs and then filling that need.
Which of course is the short version of messaging with Advantages instead of your product, your solution and all of the wizardry of a particular gadget.
Take the features and benefits of your solution and craft specific advantages for the client and the opportunity you’re selling into.
Make sure that above all else you understand your customer, their situation, and their objectives. This is much more than qualification. Qualification for most companies is about whether or not a prospect can buy. You want to learn if they will buy and if they will buy FROM YOU.
Listen more than you talk. Listen enough and the prospect will tell you how to make your solution relevant to them.
Cut out the clutter.
Your competitors aren’t doing that. It takes too much thought and effort. That is how you differentiate yourself and WIN.