Product Pitching is the Triumph of the Lowest Common Denominator
The key to your information is giving out less to encompass more. Knowledge and information represent power. Just be aware that the customer's information is infinitely superior to your own. Your information should be used as a means, not as an end. Most salespeople operate in the exact opposite mode.
Most exchanges of information in a sales call pay a huge tribute to the undisputed star of the show; the ego of the sales person, their company, and their vast array of world-class products. As you can guess this becomes a sticking point for customers, especially in the information economy. Sales people position their offering so loudly, customers cannot hear what they are saying.
Superior products and great selling data no longer make sales like they used to. They at best just get sales people in the door. "Products superiority has increasingly become the stuff of dreams – and just as elusive," says Jerry Stapleton. Too often sales people use information as an opening gambit, and not as a negotiation tool. One should use their product data and solution as an information management system. They should not be more motivated to share their intellectual capital as customers are motivated to share their proprietary and sensitive information about their business and problems.
What so many sales people do not realize is that the less you talk, the more time you will have to sell, because a customer who is listening is not in a good position to be sold. Likewise, the more words you use the harder it is for your customer to understand you, and the more apt they are to be confused. Beware that your vast knowledge and product expertise sometimes causes customers to feel unknowledgeable. When they feel unknowledgeable they are more inclined to dismiss you. If they trust you, they are more concerned about how you can make them more knowledgeable on their most pressing problems.
Sales people so often fall into the trap of being feature and benefit zealots, product evangelists, pious data windbags and information militants. Once they get caught up in the trap of being overly convinced that their solution is the greatest thing since the second coming, it is hard for them to not be critical and defensive of customers who do not agree with them. It is hard for them to let customers get a word in edgewise. It is harder for them to get customer's unique perspective.
Your value proposition is intrinsically valueless. Feature and benefit selling and value-based selling has been rendered more irrelevant and insignificant because all companies, across all industries, covering all products or services, whether they are tangibles or intangibles, custom or commodity, position and sell themselves the same identical way. They all sing from the same hymnbook. They all evangelize and tout the exact same characteristics; quality, service, reliability, expertise, performance and reputation. The irony is what they all work so hard in preventing, they actually create; total commoditization and marginalization of their value. The only value proposition of worth, is the customer's value (problem) proposition. Few take the time to find this out.
Selling is less about features and benefits and more about human behavior, interpersonal relationships, motivation to buy and effective communication. "Most people do not even want their spouses and loved ones telling them what to do, or giving them their opinion, much less a salesperson," says Michael Bosworth. The feature and benefit style of selling, which has been the hallmark strategy for most sales people over the years, is finally on its last legs, because everyone is selling the exact same unique features and benefits. The end result; everyone is unique just like everyone else.
Feature and benefit selling is not only the culmination of the lowest common denominator, it is also the triumph of the obvious. Customers expect that you have these basic elements. "We made a huge mistake with our customers. While customers wanted solutions to business problems, we were selling computers," says Ken Olsen former CEO of DEC.
A sales person does not define their value with features and benefits, rather they define their value by understanding the entire customer experience of their offering from purchase to obsolescence. They understand the total cost of ownership and can help a customer see their business differently, and see their problems in a whole new light. The real nail in the coffin for feature and benefit selling is that 90% of all features and benefits are forgotten by customers in less than 36 hours.
Customers in today's world want immediate gratification (ADD) in regard to information. Sales people also want immediate gratification (ADD) in giving out information. The problem is no one really knows what the other wants, and there is an inevitable clash. What customers really want is an immediate gratification not on information about the sales person's offering, but rather a thorough and deep understanding of any clear and present dangers (business problems) they may be facing.