My Name is Joe and I'm a Recovering Feature and Benefit Addict
The less information you rely on to sell and position your offering, the more confidence you project. There is a direct correlation between the information you give out and the amount of information you get. The less information you give out, the better your chances of getting more information. "Let your clients tell their story before you tell your story," says Mahan Khalsa.
The fatal flaw with giving out information is you rarely get enough information back to know where you stand and how it is being received. And this sets in motion the seeds of frustration because you have little sense of control. "Commonly, sales professionals are so passionate and enthusiastic about their product story, they fail to hear their customer's story," says Mitch Anthony. The customer's story is infinitely more interesting and important.
Two rules for sales that are timeless. 1) Do not tell your customer everything you know. 2) Do not tell your customer everything you know. In the customer's mind your product and your information is simply a means to an end, nothing else. When your customer is sharing information about their issues, that plays a much more dominant role in influencing the outcome of the sale than when you are sharing your information about your solution and your offering. When it comes to your information, later rather than sooner is a good rule of thumb.
If you personally require voluminous data, information, research and proof to make your own purchase decisions, then you will tend to sell the same way. You will also attract customers who disproportionately make purchase decisions requiring lots of information. Like attracts like. Birds of a feather flock together. This results in the sales person having extended sales cycles, lower margins, more objections and higher costs of sales.
This vicious cycle gets compounded by companies who are undisputed product leaders, have clear technological advantages and have abundant supporting research to back up their claims. I used to work at The Wall Street Journal, we were the worst offenders. I should know, I led the charge. Companies like this are at the greatest risk of information pollution. They have a false sense of security, that breeds arrogance and sales complacency, which results in being perceived as insensitive, and not caring about the customer's business and their problems. Conspicuous selling (feature and benefit selling) is a hard way to sell. But boy is it popular!
"It is not your product or service that will make or break a sale, but the prospect's subjective view of what it can do for them," says Sam Reese. To often we know our business well, but we do not know our customer's business well, and therefore do not learn about the discrepancies between their goals and where they want to be. This is what drives change or stifles change. Sales people know how to sell, but do not really know what motivates customers to buy, change, act or sit on their hands and do nothing.
One of the biggest disconnects in sales is when companies position their offering as a tangible (objective) and their customers are making decisions based on the intangibles (subjective nature) of their offering. Sales people objectify their offering while customers evaluate them subjectively. Is it no wonder there is such a disconnect in the sales profession.
The more outwardly identified, verbose and proud you are about your offering, the more likely you are to be insensitive, arrogant and inflexible with your customer. As long as you are enthusiastic and excited in your sales approach, all the emphasis is on you and your offering. Remember, no one really cares about you and your product. Moreover, your discussions will be very superficial, and you will fail to reach out into a deeper and wider realm where the customer's real issues are.