Tim, a new sales hire, was having trouble setting appointments. Miguel, his sales manager, wanted to know why.
After just a little one-on-one role-play, one of Tim’s challenges became clear. During his discussions with potential business partners, Tim was focusing almost exclusively on the features of what his company offered: in-house recycling equipment for users of manufacturing-grade solvents.
Having passed his firm’s product training program, Tim was ready, willing, and able to tell potential customers all about the design specs of the recycling units, their power source requirements, and even the details about ordering their replacement parts. What he couldn’t yet do, Miguel realized, was explain why the company’s customers had opted to pay a premium price for the equipment in the first place!
Miguel set aside a half-hour on his weekly calendar to work with Tim on becoming more familiar with the company’s success stories. He also helped Tim create and memorize a concise, powerful, user-friendly explanation of the problems that the company’s products had a demonstrated track record of solving: high solvent costs and burdensome record-keeping requirements.
SHINE A LIGHT ON THE DESIRABLE OUTCOME
Before prospects will invest time meeting with you, much less invest in your product or service, they will want to know, “What’s in it for me?” Rather than discussing the features of your product or service, focus on the desirable outcome your product or service creates and the process by which that desirable outcome is produced. Notice that giving someone an overview of your process is not the same thing as reciting your product specifications or your user’s manual!
Here is an example of a strong process-centered, outcome-oriented statement that could be used for prospecting discussions within Tim’s industry:
By installing one-step in-house recycling equipment, our clients have reduced the cost of storing and disposing of used solvent by as much as 78 percent, reduced the regulatory record-keeping by a similar percentage, and also reduced their solvent purchase costs by about 95 percent. In almost all cases, the pay back period for the investment was less than two years. What desirable outcome does your product or service create for your clients? How is that outcome delivered? What concise statement could you develop that puts those competitively advantageous points into words that you feel personally comfortable saying?
THE POWER OF THE RIGHT DISCUSSION
Launching a discussion about features usually leaves prospective buyers cold. Launching one about the means at your disposal for increasing efficiencies, revenues, and profits... or for decreasing inefficiencies and expenses... is a great way to connect and begin moving through the sales process.
If you can create and practice a statement that helps you engage with others about the desirable outcome you’ve delivered to other customers, you’ll be starting a powerful conversation about increasing pleasure and/or decreasing pain. You’ll find a much more positive response to that conversation.
Tim certainly did. By following Miguel’s lead, and developing and practicing a statement about the specific desirable outcome his company delivered, he boosted his total first appointments – and dramatically increased his commissions for the quarter.