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You Are not in Kindergarten—No More Show and Tell

Product pushers pour every fiber of their soul into selling, leaving very little room for their customers to bear their soul about their most pressing challenges. Product pushers crave every advantage they can get, they seize the moment and do not let go until they have been thoroughly heard and understood. Their need to dictate the terms of a sales call leaves very little room for dissent and open discussion.

There is as much proof about the wisdom and effectiveness of the granddaddy of information selling—feature and benefit selling, as there is in the medical efficacy of the holy water from Lourdes. Feature and benefit selling is on one hand the sacred cow of selling, and on the other hand it is starving sales people.

Feature and benefit selling is the selling professions equivalent of conspicuous consumption. More, more, more. Better, better, better. It is noisy, loud and pushy, and so often it produces its opposite goal. It is wordsmithing gone amok. It is a failure that often looks like success. It is truly a killer sales app. And I mean the negative kind.

There is hardly a prize to be found in the Cracker Jack box of features and benefits. I like to call feature and benefit selling free expression suicide. Is anyone listening? Can you hear me now? No and no.

All features and benefits are fighting to be the exception. All feature and benefit sellers are cookie-cutter, cardboard cut-outs looking very distinctly the same. The strategy has in bold flashing lights "salesey" written all over it. All sales people carry the burden of the sins of their profession. Just be aware that feature and benefit selling is one of the worst offenders. Feature and benefit pushers are truly their own worst enemy.

Deterrence in the age of information proliferation is not working. The doctrine of mutual assured destruction is what is happening in today's sales environment. Sales people proliferate information and customers return the favor with a proliferation of non-information. Both parties lose out.

Jeffrey Gittomer coined the phrase, "People love to buy but hate to be sold." If information pushers really understood this they would not persist with their overflowing information about their product and company. These sales people are fluent and competent in the selling component, but are incompetent in understanding the buying component of the equation. They sell before they understand why one would buy or not. Information sellers believe if you build it (spec it out) they will come. They should tweak it to if you get off the customer's back, you have a better chance they will come and build it themselves (find their own answers).

You are not in elementary school anymore, so no more show and tell. Most product sellers need to be put into elementary, remedial classes to bone up on their questioning skills. As long as you are not questioning and giving out information, you will always be considered a usual suspect, and the suspicion of having an ax to grind will always be present.

Recipients of product information can be best summed up as seeing but not really seeing, hearing but not listening, hearing but suppressing, hearing but not internalizing and hearing yet deriding.

Richard Farrell is President of Tangent Knowledge Systems, a national sales development and training firm based in Chicago. He is the author of the upcoming book Selling has Nothing to do with Selling. He trains and speaks around the world and has authored many articles on his unique non-selling sales posture.

Phone: 773-404-7915
EMail: rfarrell@tangentknowledge.com
Web: http://www.tangentknowledge.com