Being a product expert will often hinder more than help your sales endeavours.
There are two problems with being a product expert:
- Firstly, when we have an area of expertise, we tend to focus our conversation in the areas where we are the most comfortable, in this case… the product or service we sell.
- Secondly, we tend to talk to people who we will most resonate with, and are most interested in the specifics of the product itself.
In the world of selling, that will mean you end up selling lower down the value chain and you are selling products instead of solving problems.
Over my career I have sold and worked in 14 different industries.
Each time I move into a new industry my level of product expertise is extremely low.
Many people would feel this was a big hurdle to overcome.
In the last employed role I ever held, I was a sales manager for a venture capital funded tech start-up.
We sold a software application into the retail sector.
Unfortunately, I knew very little about the business side of the retail sector and knew even less about our software application.
In the first week I was there, I sat down with everybody I could get hold of in the company and asked two questions.
If an Ideal Client purchased our software;
- What goals/outcomes could be achieved using our software that they were not able to achieve before?
- What are the top 3 to 5 frustrations/problems that our software eliminates?
As I collected answers, I would then ask how our software application achieved the result it achieved.
Slowly but surely I began to understand our software in the context of the typical client situation.
By the end of the first week I felt confident about jumping on the phone and making some calls.
My goal was simple.
Find people who had problems our software could solve.
I would say something along these lines.
- The reason for the call is that we know from working with some of the U.K.’s top retailers, the biggest issues they face are;
- Issue 1
- Issue 2
- Issue 3
- We’ve been able to help companies like Retailer 1, Retailer 2, and Retailer 3 with these issues.
- The reason for the call is to see if you are grappling with any of those issues in your business?
You can see in this mini script, the focus of the conversation was not on the product. The focus is on what the product does for the customer.
Let’s quickly look at a completely different example.
I’ve joined and trained in countless health clubs over the years. And I’ve observed what happens when potential new members are enquiring about joining.
The typical process runs like this.
They are given a tour of the fantastic facilities the health club offers. Somebody will explain the benefits the different classes and equipment that is available. That tends to be about 80% of the conversation.
The best health clubs do something different. 80% of the conversation is focused on the health and fitness goals of the potential new member.
The advisor will then explain the features and benefits of their health club in the context of the new member’s personal health goals.
Product expertise is very important, but it’s not the deciding factor if you want to be professional in the world of consultative selling.
So, if you are up for a small challenge; try a different approach on your next selling conversation.
Make it your primary objective to uncover the goals your customer has and the problems they are trying to resolve. Discuss those in detail before introducing your product or service.
Then, explain to your potential customer how your products and services will resolve the issues that your client is dealing with.
FREE Resource: I produced a special CONSULTATIVE SELLING CHEAT SHEET that I give my private clients to use. It will help you uncover the issues your prospects are trying to solve. You can download it for free using this link.