So find out what they do want

A common problem I see in sales is the fallacy that the person you are talking to wants what you have to sell. They don’t. They don’t care about what is important to you, they only care about what is important to them. And that is different for every person.

If you start your sales pitch by going into detail on what you offer, you are going to lose the sale. People don’t care about your features or the thing that you like to talk up. Until you know what interests them, every word that comes out of your mouth has the potential to drive them away so stop talking and start asking. Have a conversation. Broadly go over what you do, but then start asking them questions about things that will tease out relevant information you can use to tell them why what you have will help them. It may be a specific need they have (invoicing, reporting, online chat), or it may be a feeling they have that needs to be satisfied.

For instance, if you have software that helps small businesses run their business, the absolute worst thing you can do in a demo is start at the main screen and start telling them all about that screen, line by line, control by control. They don’t care! And you have already lost them.

Instead, start broadly by showing them the app and giving them some light info, like how the app installs or that you access it via a browser. This should take a minute, tops. Think “small talk”, not “white paper”.

Load the app. But then, before you start talking about what it does, ask them some questions. The obvious one is, do you use some business management software now, and what parts do you struggle with? They may go into some aspect that particularly gripes them, like scheduling customers, or running reports, or how it loses data. That is what you talk about. Only that for now. Tell them how much better yours will be because of X, Y, and Z. These are easy wins.

They may drop something like “when the website fails to allow a customer to schedule an appointment online, it is embarrassing and it hurts our image”. Listen closely, they are telling you what feelings are important to them. They want to feel competent and respected. If your software can help with that, weave it in to your conversation.

From there they will probably start asking about other areas of interest. Don’t bullshit them. If your software/product does not do something well, be upfront and honest about it. Don’t try to minimize it and play it off. People will be surprisingly forgiving about certain things if your product does other things that are the important to them. And if it does not do that one important thing that they need? Well, it may not be the right product for them. They will appreciate the honesty and still respect your company. And if you run into the same thing it doesn’t do over and over, you have gained valuable insight into what your company needs to work on.

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