October 1, 2014

Column from Florida Trend's Business Coach

People don't want details, only results

Ron Stein | 4/23/2012

Knowing your products and services well can mean more sales for you -- as long as what you have to say is important to your prospects. The problem is that most people will confuse the important information needed to win a deal with giving too many details.

We all need to know what makes our offering tick. Having deep knowledge of your products and services can be powerful, yet at the same time it can be a trap.

That "ah ha" moment in a potential customer’s mind happens when the value is clear and outweighs any possible risk of doing business with you. These two points are key to catching their attention and closing the deal.

It’s natural and safe to rattle off a list of features. We’re all proud of what's inside of our products and services. Honestly, does the person you’re speaking with or who is looking at your website really care?

If your conversation isn’t on point with how you will make pains, threats, and challenges go away, then prospects will tune out and move on. Here are three ways to keep that from happening.

  1. Don’t make widgets, make an impact. People want to know what positive impact your solution will make in their life and business. Most of your competition will get lost in the details of their products and services. When that happens, prospects will fail to see the value it could bring them. There will be time to explain how you do it later, but first you must catch their attention on an emotional level. Be sure to convey exactly how your offering with do something special -- such as save money or time, perhaps solve legal woes, or maybe allow people to spend more time with their family;
  2. Perceived value versus perceived risk. Value goes beyond benefits -- it must be deeply important to your market. If your value proposition doesn’t clearly overwhelm any potential risk, prospects will either take no action and stick with their existing solution, or choose another player. Speak directly to what they’ll lose if they don’t go with you and what they’ll gain when they do. Of course that means you have to know your market extremely well, giving you the ability to drive immediately to what they want -- and need. The best way to approach this is to put yourself in their shoes and answer every question you can imagine that they’ll ask. The trick is to have answers that are not based on the details of your offering, just the value. Quantify the value where you can. Now you’re prepared for action;
  3. Refine and condense. Now comes the hard part, taking all complexity out of your marketing and sales message. Let people know you understand the issues they have in front of them today and that you solve. Stories always help to illustrate the outcome prospects can expect in concrete terms when they purchase your product or service. Your job is to educate on the value your company provides. Stay away from features, acronyms, and marketing hype or fluff. And make your message easy to understand and remember.

It’s a balancing act for both you and your prospects. On one side is your value -- the promise, differentiation, and why you should be believed. On the other side is the risk -- is your offer really solving their problem, the effort to make it work, what can go wrong, and price.

Communicate the benefits of your product or service simply and clearly with a concise and powerful message; answer the questions prospects have before they ask; and tell your story. Do this without a lot of confusing details and you’ll have a winning, attention-grabbing message that will add up to more sales for your business.


Read earlier columns from Florida Trend's business coach, Ron Stein
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Ron Stein is the founder and President of FastPath Marketing (www.marketing-strategies-guide.com). He has more than 20 years experience in sales, marketing, and business development, working positions ranging from salesman to vice president of sales and marketing to CEO of startups with industry leaders such as Motorola, VideoServer, Paradyne, and SercoNet. Ron is a member of the advisory team at the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, a nationally recognized entrepreneurial and startup accelerator for the state of Florida. He can be reached at 727-398-1855 or Ron@FastPathMarketing.com

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