Benefits vs. Challenges
Before we roll out the PowerPoint and give our biggest, best and most heartfelt presentation let’s take a step back.
As selling professionals we are constantly expected to recite the benefits of our product/service to our prospects. We are faster, better and less expensive than what they are currently using. We realize that all prospects are not the same, so we asked “probing questions” to better understand their unique “need state”. But are we really listening? Often I find that salespeople use the Q&A portion of a sales as a sort of segue into their presentation about benefits. It’s as if we are asking questions to kill a little time and possibly build a little trust before we hit them with our canned pitch.
The problem here should be obvious; nobody really cares about our pitch. They care about their challenges (assuming they have any) and whether or not we can help them. They know that it’s too soon for us to know if we can truly help, so our presentation almost always sounds insincere. This immediately dissolves trust and turns us from a trusted advisor into a door to door encyclopedia salesman (not too many of those anymore!)
So let’s try waiting a bit before we unload our slides, and deliver our killer pitch. Having an organized and well-thought-out slide presentation is important but its only one part of the puzzle. Take a breath and focus in a little bit more earnestly on our prospects challenges. Let’s take the position both internally and vocally that we indeed may be able to help, but we may not. Take a neutral position on selling a solution for a moment while you try and accurately understand the problem. If we admit to our prospects our fallibility maybe they will trust us enough to share their real challenges which they tend to regard as their own fallibility.
The key to sales is honest dialog that establishes trust. There are a lot of routes there but an aggressive “pitch-first” approach is not one of them.