I had the opportunity to watch a longtime customer and friend present the ColorMetrix story to one of his customer’s the other day. What an invaluable learning experience it turned out to be. I was able to observe which bits and pieces of our product and services offering he feels add value to the relationship with his customer.
What matters to you may not matter to them
I’m a recovering features and benefits salesman. I now sell with stories that illustrate to the prospective partner business how we can work together to solve problems and provide solutions. I watched my friend present my wares as part of a larger initiative via a PowerPoint presentation.
My friends story was a compelling one. A complete solution using the tools, technology and expertise of several vendors to piece together a truly world class solution. He can’t really settle for anything less, his customers are some of the largest consumer product companies in the world. To see where he mentioned us and which screen shots he included has had my brain rethinking much of our marketing for 2011.
It’s not that I got it wrong but I certainly can sharpen the saw. What I watched for thirty minutes was the body language of my friend’s customer – the ultimate enduser of the information we create. I watched for when he was excited. For when his interest waned. I learned more in thirty minutes than tens of thousands of dollars spent on focus groups could have yielded.
It’s about the story
It’s not about the features and benefits. It’s about the story of how the features and benefits are utilized to improve the process. The story of adding dollars to the bottom line. The story of saving time and money. The sizzle (features and benefits with pretty pictures) will only get you so far. At some point the solutions you sell better have some substance to fall back on. Otherwise, the stories will not be good.
Selling with stories requires that your products not suck. Know why? Because if your products suck (even a little bit) the stories that get out there will amplify the parts of your offering that suck. Build the best products you can and then tell the stories of how you customer’s use those products to improve their processes.
Makes sense – right?