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August 17, 2018

Sales and Marketing Advice for Florida Business

The secret to selling a feature-rich product: Don't talk about the 'technology'

Even if the product or service you are selling is complex and full of whiz-bang features, be sure to speak to the specific outcomes and don't get mired in details, or you will bog the sale down.

Ron Stein | 5/7/2018

Recently I bought a new laptop to replace my old MacBook Pro. Although my old laptop worked well enough, after seven years it was getting a little sluggish. So, it was time to improve my productivity and maybe shed a little weight in my briefcase too.

When I made the decision to get a new machine, I thought it would be an easy process. After all, I more or less knew what I wanted. Yet, Apple, didn’t make it easy.

It seems that the king of marketing is in in love with features and functions along with speeds and feeds just like their competitors. Here’s what I was bombarded with: 4.1GHz Turbo Boost processing, 500-nit Retina display, 3.2GB/s SSD read speeds, and powerful integrated graphics with 64MB of embedded DRAM. Say what!

Jeez, all I wanted to know was which model was best for the way I work. How did that make me feel? Confused, hurt, befuddled. Okay, that’s a bit melodramatic. The point is I was focused on results, specific to my situation. More importantly, I was ready to buy, but the blizzard of tech-talk made me hesitate.

Could Apple have done a better job at targeting me? Sure, I mean, everyone knows Apple is good at targeting their audience by segmentation and positioning their products. And I fit in nicely; I appreciate their quality, performance, design, and services.

As a long-standing customer, Apple also knows I’m a professional, travel a lot, speak to audiences large and small, work on multiple documents and presentations at the same time, collaborate often in various ways, a determined individual, love to explore, and value productivity as well as positive outcomes. Pricing is secondary.

So why the heck didn’t Apple have a big button on their website that said, “Choose Your perfect MacBook Pro” to help me? I wasn’t feeling the love from one of my favorite companies.

Don’t let this happen to your business!

Benefits versus outcomes. So, you’re thinking that all Apple needed to do was talk about the benefits of buying a computer with 4.1GHz Turbo Boost processing and 64MB of embedded DRAM -- more speed is always better and equates to more productivity -- right? Not so fast. There are four MacBook Pro models, each having different options. There’s no easy way to display them side-by-side based on my situation, the way I work. Ouch! A pinch of artificial intelligence to ask a few questions about what results I want, beyond the “benefits” would go a long way to quickly narrow down the choices. That’s why selling results and outcomes are much more powerful than benefits. Take the extra step to help your future buyers make an easy decision.

The key to selling feature-rich products is to NOT talk about the “technology.” It’s hard for mere mortals to get excited about the cold techy stuff inside of your product. Apple might argue that their target audience cares about this. Sure, but the psychology of selling is clear: we make decisions based on emotions, the way we feel, and then justify that with logic after the fact. Imagine your local power company talking about how their generators produce an AC 3-phase electromotive force by constantly maintaining 3600 RPM to deliver constant voltage at a 60 Hz frequency. How would you feel? It’d be more appealing to simply say, “Just plug into any outlet in your home and rest easy, because we maintain the exact voltage you need 24 hours a day, 365 days a year no matter what.” Whether you’re selling PCs or dinette sets, find out what your customer really wants and first speak to that, then support it with facts. Otherwise you’re selling backwards.

But it’s my job to know the technical stuff. That’s a fair point. Maybe it’s a complex product and the person in front of you oversees designing and installing systems for their company. Or mom and dad want to send their daughter on an overseas study program and feel it’s important to understand the details and how that will impact the future of their child before laying out big bucks. Broadly, there are three types of buyers you must be prepared to sell to. Economic decision-makers such as the CEO of a company or the head of a household; strategic advocates like a corporate information officer or the college student who would like mom and dad to fork over money for a semester abroad; and recommenders, who the economic decision-makers and strategic advocates rely on to make an informed decision. Sometimes these roles combine. It’s your job to figure which persona you are marketing and selling to and when. You may need different presentations, web pages, and brochures for each.

Too often vendors fall in love with their features and functions, convinced that is why people buy. Yet, people are really looking for solutions.

Follow the facts that lead to the desired outcome because technology doesn't evoke emotion. Here's what our product can do and here's what you can do with our product are not the same thing.

That's why the secret to selling “technical” products and services is not to talk about technology. Even the geek inside each of us wants to feel great about how a product or service adds value to our lives and fits into our story. It’s all about the outcome!

Ron Stein is founder of More Customers Academy, helping business leaders build strategic messaging and positioning that cuts through the competitive noise to grow revenue. Ron has developed his own highly successful 5-step Stand Out & Sell More approach to winning new customers as a result of his twenty-five years of business development, marketing, and selling experiences. He works with a range of businesses, from startups to large corporations across industries including technology and healthcare, manufacturing, and financial services and banking. Ron conducts workshops, leads company meetings, offers keynote talks, and consults. He can be reached at 727-398-1855 or by email.

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