Sales and marketing, Channel markets

It’s Not About What Your Product Does

Author: David Brock, president, Partners in Excellence
Author: David Brock

Everyday, I speak with sales people who are struggling. They’ve got a rock solid deal, the customer is qualified and interested. These sales people are eager to educate the customer about their products–and customers are at the point in their buying cycles where they want to be educated.

But somehow deals become stalled.  Conversations continue, but things don’t move forward.

As I review the deals with sales people, trying to figure out how to break them loose, a common theme keeps coming up. The conversations are all focusing on what the product does. That is, the focus is on product capabilities, features, functions.

Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying, these sales people aren’t just focused on pitching their products to marginally interested customers. The customers are at the point in their buying process where they are eager to learn and sales people are eager to respond.

It’s a trap our customers fall into, and we go down that rat hole with them.

What our products do is important to our customers. But what our products enable our customers to do is what’s critical to their ability to move forward in their buying process.

The reason they are buying is not because of what the product does, but because of what it enables them to do. It may sound like I’m wordsmithing, but it’s an important difference–one that both we and our customers lose sight of.

It’s critical we keep refocusing the conversation. The customer is buying because they want to drive some change or improvement in their business. They want to grow, they want to solve a problem. These are the fundamental drivers to making a decision and justifying it to their management. This is where we need to keep refocusing the discussions.

What our products enable our customers to do is why they are buying.

The magic of focusing our discussion here, not only because it moves the conversation back to what the customer cares about, but it provides us a broader and stronger base to differentiate and justify our offerings.

If the focus of our conversations with customers is what our products do, it’s difficult to differentiate ourselves from competitors doing the same thing.

But if we change the conversations–while our competitors are still talking about what their products do, we are focusing on the customer and the outcomes they will achieve.

We also have a much broader platform for justifying the investments our customers make in our solutions. As an example, recently a sales person was reviewing his deal with me. He was struggling to justify his solution. He was focused on the cost savings his solution would provide over the current way his customer was doing things. There were savings, but possibly not enough to motivate the customer to change. When we shifted the conversation to focus on his customer’s ability to retain customers (they were losing customers because of mediocre service levels). All of a sudden, there were millions more in justification and motivation to change.

While this should seem obvious, we and our customers lose this focus. We get so caught up in what our products do, we forget the real conversation needs to be about what they enable the customer to do.

David Brock is president of Partners in EXCELLENCE, a management consulting firm focused on sales productivity, channel development, strategic alliances and more. Read more blogs from Brock here.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.