One would be hard pressed to find a time where innovation was as accessible as it is today. Across many different industries, companies have been able to improve upon existing practices at incredible rates. For many tasks, new software can automate the process and has allowed for more efficiency. Data collection has never been easier, and has led to many businesses developing smart tools to analyze and produce strategies to help businesses increase revenue, cut costs, and reach a wider audience.
In particular, many SaaS and B2B companies have been at the forefront of this tech revolution. For these companies, the biggest problem they face is helping businesses understand and adopt their products. During pitches, sales calls, and in marketing collateral, some businesses are losing sales because their potential customers don’t really understand what they are selling. Sales reps and sales teams need to find ways to demonstrate the value of their product to people who may not have the same skills. Below are some tips to try and help businesses close the knowledge gap, leaving potential customers informed and ready to open their checkbooks.
Sometimes, the best way to sell your product isn’t by going into extreme detail about every feature. It can be hard to simplify your product, especially one that you are excited about. Passion about your product is so important in any sales scenario, and an audience can clearly tell when you really believe in something, and when you are just flying through to get things over with. However, sometimes you must control that passion and focus it into the features that really matter to each customer. Tailoring your pitch to each individual customer is one of the best approaches that is crucial to closing sales.
It can be tempting to rattle off everything your product can do. However, it's better that you hone in on a few key features and give your prospective customer a real chance at understanding the value your product will provide. The bottom line is that if you tell a prospect about everything, they’re likely to tune you out and not hear what's really important.
Dumb it down
Similarly, keeping discussions of your product simple is just as important. There’s a reason that in most companies, the person making the product isn’t necessarily the person selling it. A software engineer might be great at designing and building a product, but not as great at explaining it in simple terms. For small businesses, however, it might be necessary to have engineers pitching your product. You may not have the luxury of every sales associate or employee working with their strengths.
Here, it is important that you don’t get carried away selling your product. While the technical details of your product are certainly important, they might clutter the message that you are sending to the potential customer. Keep it simple, and speak in terms that everyone can understand. With the right training, everyone can address the skills gaps.
Demos are awesome
One of the easiest ways to showcase your product in a digestible way is through demos. The format of these will change depending on the type of product or service you are offering, but basically, any medium showing what your product does can be extremely helpful to prospective customers. Often, words may not be able to explain what your product really does. Sometimes, the short description of what a company does isn’t accessible enough to people that don’t already know everything about the product. Demos can help close the information gap between businesses and prospective consumers.
In these demos, it is important that you also talk about the value the product will generate. Show what the product does, and explain why it does it. For example, if you show how your product scrapes and organizes data into charts and graphs, explain what businesses can do with that new information. Whenever you can, remind your customer of the value you will be bringing to them.
One great demo I have seen is by Slack, the business communication platform. Their website provides an interactive demo that lets users see what their experience with the product would look like before purchase, and they even let you customize the iterations based on your own business’ needs. By allowing potential customers to familiarize themselves with their service and visualize the tangible benefits, they make it a lot easier for people to understand and purchase their product. On their website, they jump ahead of any business knowledge gaps, and focus on the customer experience.
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten is “don’t take yourself too seriously.” A lot of times, especially in the professional world, people get uptight and nervous. It's understandable why people react this way to stressful situations. However, it is extremely important that you break through this rigidity.
Humor isn’t appropriate in every situation, but it can be a great tool that will help break the ice and lead to understanding. Cisco, a networking hardware and software company, partnered up with the “For Dummies” brand of books to explain some of their technology. The access to this ebook advertised clearly on their site allows prospective customers to understand what some of their technology does with little effort. And, thee humorous aspect of it gives off a great feeling about the brand.
Check your ego at the door
Nobody wants to feel like they aren’t the smartest person in the room. When negotiating with business leaders, you may need to take the high road, and let them feel like they are the smartest (even if they’re not). Allow yourself to really hear the questions the prospective customer is asking, and allow yourself to be vulnerable. People want to be cared for, and your job is to make the customer feel like you are personally taking care of them.
This advice is important during all stages of product development and sale. Be careful not to close yourself off to good ideas, because you may further alienate a base of potential customers.