Blog entry by Faith Muwar Mpara
Three years ago, I applied for the role of the Sales Development Representative with Crossover. Before this time, I had been doing the job of a Sales Representative with New Generation Technologies. And had learned the famous rule “sell the benefits to the user and not the product features”. But guess what, I was the passionate Engineer. Totally obsessed with my products and had gone around selling the amaaaaaaaaaaaazing features . It was just a rule and we could flout it depending on atmospheric temperature and pressure. By the way, I still got some results; the first Anglo-Saxon secondary school in Cameroon used our Scholar. Few months into business and our Scholar was managing records for thousands of students and saving manual hours for teachers and school administrators. This is not a story about Scholar, but I hope you get the background.
A scenario with water
Now I want us to really look at what this could look like in real life. Imagine two people selling pure water while it’s very sunny and people are likely to be thirsty. Person A shouts “This water is amazing. Every molecule of this water has two amazing Hydrogen atoms and an extraordinary oxygen atom. As if this was not enough, oxygen and hydrogen are linked by the famous covalent bond in this relationship. You owe it to yourself to have a taste of H2O.” Now, Person B goes “Quench your thirst, stay hydrated and be effective on your job with this spring fresh water”. While person A goes for the features, person B pushes with the benefits. Person A even gives you the luxury of recalling junior secondary chemistry 😊(whether you like it or not). Guess which one I will be most tempted to buy. I hope you’re not disappointed, but who I choose will probably depend on what I ate, what side of the bed I used in the morning, my mood and lots of other things that you may not want to know. What option connects better with you?
A scenario with a prospective boyfriend/girlfriend
Let’s consider the second case that is probably more common than we may want to admit; dating. Assume that you are a lady on LBS’s busy MBA program. Chuks lengthy emails just hit your inbox at a time when you have not fully recovered from the exam score for Analysis of Business Problems (ABP). Guy A walks up to you and goes; “I am 2m tall, I have a very strong sense of humour, my bank account can fund the state budget for the next 20 years and I am the smartest person you will ever meet. Can we date?”. Guy B walks up to you and says, “You look stressed is everything okay? It’s understandable if this feels awkward to you. We have not talked before and I’ll totally respect your decision if now is not good time. But if there’s anyway that I could be of help, please don’t hesitate to let me know”.
Unfortunately, there are no guarantees
Just like the first case, there is a thousand and one different ways that each of these discussions could proceed. In the first case, the features are prioritised. This does not stop the buyer from connecting perceived benefits. But with the benefits, the buyer is centred and is the driver of the offering.
Sales is natural and conversational. We carryout this activity in our lives every day. There are times when we get obsessed with ourselves and what we have to offer. And there are those times when we sincerely care for the pain of the customer and look for the opportunity to help through our products and/or services. In either case, it is important to consciously design what results you want to get, what experience you want the customer to have throughout the process, and to choose an option that delivers these outcomes.
In subsequent write-ups, I hope to write about; how this relates to company branding and sales of SaaS products.