Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Why I Absolutely Won't Buy From You

Imagine being in the best shape of your life by anyone's standards when some guy walks up to you and starts pitching his wickedly awesome weight loss product. What would you do? Probably the same thing I did when I received an unsolicited Twitter message about just such a product. This person decided to follow me on Twitter and I followed him back after scanning his profile. The unsolicited and misplaced offer came an hour or so later. So, I responded with the following: "had u taken the time to review my profile, u would know I do not need or want ur product." I proceeded to unfollow him. Get out your notepad and pay close attention if you are wondering why you cannot close the deal.

Mistake Number 1 - Your Features Suck

Spouting off product features without mapping them to benefits is a futile endeavor and the mark of an amateur. I learned this in my many years as an information technology (IT) consultant.

Enterprise software is packed with thousands of features, most of which are irrelevant to customers. Consider the world's most used word processor, Microsoft Word. How many features do you actually use on a regular basis?

Features matter only when they solve a problem or meet a specific need. So, when describing your product or service, focus on benefits, not features. To further increase your chances of closing the deal, study the customer before talking about your product. This enables you to position the offering in a manner more appealing to them.

Examine the following list of whiz bang features:

What does it mean to have an Internet ready television, 64 gigabytes of memory or a dessert with 50% less fat? Your job is to tell me why I should care about these features and how they help me. To many consumers, Internet ready television sounds complicated and what the hell is a gigabyte any?

Now look at this table:

Your customer may not know a gigabyte from a hole in the wall, but they understand the significance of carrying thousands of songs in their pocket.

Mistake Number 2 - Your Targeting Sucks

Think of the receptionist in an office building whose only responsibility is to receive packages and direct traffic. You show up one day with a case full of your latest widget and try to convince her it is the next big thing. She says, "No, we already bought a bunch of those, but thanks for asking."

What just happened? Amateur salespeople and business owners make the common mistake of selling to those who cannot buy. Although these people lack the authority to say yes, they do have the power to say no and stop you in your tracks.

Success in sales requires understanding the difference between decision makers and decision influencers.

A key decision maker is one with the power to buy. This could be the CEO of a company or the mom in a household.

A decision influencer is one who has the ear of the key decision maker, though they cannot directly make a purchase. This could be the CEO's executive assistant or the child of a parent (no, that is not a typo).

It is often better to talk to influencers because they wield considerable power. How many times have you heard, "Let me discuss this with my wife," only to later be told the buyer is no longer interested? The wife is clearly the influencer.

Experienced salespeople always ask, "Is there anyone else who will be involved in this decision?" If the answer is yes, a request is made to meet with all stake holders at the same time.

This table is an example of decision makers and their potential influencers:

Some may wonder how a child can be an influencer. To answer this question, study the commercials that run during children’s' programming. This is especially true for Saturday morning cartoons here in America.

Food and toy manufacturers have done enough research to realize busy moms do not want to fight with this person while shopping:

They know mom will give in when little Suzie screams, stomps her feet and holds her breath until she is blue. Children, especially younger ones, are tremendous influencers when it comes to certain buying decisions.

We Are All Salespeople

I love when people say, "I am not a salesperson." Sure you are. If you ever tried to convince your significant other to watch Steel Magnolias instead the latest Bond film (or the reverse), you are a salesperson.

Selling is nothing more than persuading another person to do what you want, which means we are all salespeople delivering "pitches" throughout the day. To increase your "close" rate," focus on the needs of the other person instead of your own. Before long, people will say to you, "Wow, you are a great salesperson." To which you can reply, "Nope, I'm just a really good listener."  

Godspeed and I look forward to seeing you in The Players Lounge.

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