Charles Revson, the founder of Revlon once said, "In the factory we make cosmetics, in the stores we sell hope." Are you addressing what your customers hope for? Far too often that answer is, "no". Your message gets buried with product features, technology and specifications that cause your prospects’ eyes to glaze over. Until you understand the emotional drivers behind your customers' buying decisions, your sales pitch will merely deliver information, not inspiration. Here are three easy steps to find out more about what's on your customers’ minds.
1. Do your research. If you don't have a research budget - Use Google! Tap into the people who get paid to stay on top of industry trends (i.e. Trade journalists, management consultants, bloggers, etc.) Look at the editorial calendars of your trade publications and presentation topics at upcoming industry events to find out what topics are trending. Stay informed.
2. Talk to existing customers. If you don't have a budget for an advisory board or focus group, talk to your customers. Find out what they are excited and worried about going into the next year. Are there new regulations coming or pressures for greater efficiency? What would make their work lives better? What motivates their buying decisions?
3. Tell them what to hope for! If you can't find a new trend you can sell into - create one. Test the story on trusted colleagues and measure their reaction. Does it excite them? Does it create belief in your solution? Remember you are far more likely to attract a following and create brand loyalty if you address your buyers' hopes and needs.
Far too often, sales representatives and even CEO's get caught selling all the features of their products and leave the "what's in it for me" portion of the pitch until the end. We've all done it. Sure, you may have a long list of all the benefits of your product and all the problems it solves, but the prospect doesn't care about half of them. Instead, find out what problem the prospect wants to solve and find out up-front. This way you can frame your product's value in the context of the prospect's needs.
The Trap: What Not to Do
"Thanks for taking the time to learn more about my product. Here's what our product does. Yada, yada, yada (Have I hit on something you're interested in yet? No?) Yada, yada, yada. Oh, and, yada, yada, yada..."
A Better Approach
"Thanks for taking the time to meet with me. Before I tell you about our product, I would like to learn more about you and your practice. (Ask some probing questions until you find a pain point.) What are some of the challenges you face when treating patients with (disease/condition you specialize in)?
Once you get some answers, you can position your pitch on how you solve his/her problem.That way you're not wasting his/her time with information overload. If you want to pepper-in a few additional benefits at the end, that's fine. But don't weigh your pitch down with information that may be irrelevant to the person you are in front of today.
Selling solutions to problems vs. selling products also strengthens your relationship with the prospect. By listening and helping him/her solve a problem, you become strategically important and a trusted colleague.
So, how good is your story?