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You Won’t Win With The Best Product!

by David Brock on August 12th, 2014

Sales people are obsessed with products.  We know every feature, function, feed, and speed.  We know the most nuanced details of the product and how it’s used.

We know the competitors, comparing each thing the competitor does with what we do—“The competitor’s only comes in black, we offer four colors…….

We have endless analyses, brochures, case studies and testimonials about the superiority of our products.  We have demos, benchmarks, and other tools that prove the superiority of our products.

We can spew endless features, advantages, and benefits.  We are prepared to pitch anything about the product at a moment’s noticed–anxiously jumping at every opportunity to get in front of a customer with the product.

We may wrap fancy words around our products, calling them solutions.  But too often it’s a thin veneer–we really focus on the products.

But all of this doesn’t make a difference to the customer.  They simply don’t care.

Don’t get me wrong, having great products is important.  But they aren’t what causes you to win.  They are simply table stakes.  They enable us to be considered, to be on a short list, with several alternatives.

But by the time you have been shortlisted with a few other alternatives, the customer has determined each alternative will meet their objectives.  Any of the solutions under consideration will solve their problem.  So if we’ve competed on a product feature, function, feeds, and speeds–the only way we can differentiate ourselves to an indifferent customer is through pricing.

So if it’s not our products, what causes us to win?

It’s us–sales professionals.  It’s how we engage the customer in thinking about their business.  It’s the understanding we have of their business, their goals–business and personal.  It’s the insight on new opportunities.  It’s showing them better ways achieve their goals.

It goes beyond painting a bright picture of the future and getting them hot and lathered to change.  It’s helping them organize themselves to solve the problem and make a change.  It’s helping them organize themselves to buy.  Aligning diverse agendas, priorities and interests within their organization.  It’s helping them build the case to gain management approval and support t0 invest in the change the buying team wants to make.  It’s making sure they are successful and achieve what they had hoped to achieve in the purchase.

Eventually the product comes into play–but later in the process.  The product is a part of what the customer needs to do to achieve their goals, but it isn’t what causes them to buy.

It’s amazing how many of us–not just in sales–have all this wrong.  We focus on what we do, the products and solutions we build.  We know little about the customer and their problems.  We know little about the dynamics of how things get done within organizations.  We go through endless product training programs, we ask for tools to help us tell the customer about the products.  We spend very little time learning about what customers care about and how we can help them.

We need great products to be invited to play.  But we win with all the other stuff that’s more important to the customer and what they want to achieve.

Do you know how to help the customer do this?  Can you talk to the customer about their customers, markets, business, strategies and goals?  Can you show them ways they can improve their performance and the results they can produce.  Can you help them figure out how to buy?  Can you continue through the buying process to help them be successful?

It’s these things that drive our ability to win, grow our relationships and reputations, and continue to win.

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