Okay, listen. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, or whether you’re selling products or services. You are ALWAYS selling your customers their FUTURE.
And “their future,” doesn’t mean “your future.” People don’t care how good you are at what you do, how cool or amazing you are yourself, or how cool the products you’re selling are. If you are targeting customers that love you, and you enjoy that more than making a sale, your sales numbers will suck and your customer’s affections for you will run out. You are not calling your customers for their love and affection; you are calling them to make a sale.
Okay, so what do customers care about? Themselves. Your customers only care about how your product helps them. That means that features, benefits, add-ons, price points and discounts are all meaningless until your customer is aware of their pain points.
Your initial job as a salesperson is to show your customers their pain points. This is done best by asking them questions, NOT making statements! Of course you’re smart and have an amazing perspective, but your customer is ten times more interested in your listening to their perspective, than they are about listening to yours. So, show them some love, and ask them ALL about it.
Your creativity comes into play with the questions you ask them. Some of their answers will not be helpful, but most will, and you can subtly steer the conversation by controlling the questions.
Once you’ve asked your questions, their answers will outline what’s important to them, with regards to what you’re selling. Clarify things like “okay, so if I’m hearing you right, you’d much prefer X over Y, because your situation is _____.” Their answers to these questions are their agreement, already, to buy your products (assuming you can offer X).
So, now, you’ve piqued their interest. Your line of questioning has brought their attention to their pain points, and the fix for all of those pain points. Now you need to step them through the Value Delta.
The Value Delta is the difference between their world if they do not buy your product, and if they do. It is your job to widen this gap as much as possible, so that the value they perceive is far larger than your price. As a rule, a sale is made once the perceived value is higher than the cost.
Let’s work with an example: Let’s say that you have a program that can interpret sign language and “read aloud” the sign language to listeners so that people can communicate with their deaf relatives over a video call. Your potential customer is named Rick, and his mother in law, Jane, is deaf. Rick does not speak sign language, himself, but it’s important to Rick that his son speaks with Jane.
Your customer didn’t know five minutes ago that your software even existed—so he’s been living in a world and projecting into the future with the assumption that either everyone learns sign language or they don’t get to communicate with Jane. As a salesman, it’s your job to show Rick the world in which he does not buy my product (the floor) and the world as it would be if he did (the ceiling). The differences between the two, is the Value Gap.
First, always discuss the Value Gap’s Floor. Ask Rick, how important he thinks it is to a child’s life to have a connection with their grandparents (very important). Ask if he thinks that, as a deaf woman, Jane has had a unique experience in her life that would benefit your son (yes). Ask, “Are you frustrated by the fact that your son cannot communicate with his grandmother?” The answer is yes.
You get the idea. Keep their attention on the importance of your product, the pain point that it solves, what would happen if they did not purchase your product, and what it’d be like if they did purchase it.
Once you’ve gone through the floor of the Value Gap, you get into the ceiling. Discuss how wonderful it would be for Rick’s son to have a relationship with Jane, to learn from her, talk about heritage and legacy, ancestry, respecting your elders, wisdom, the whole nine—how that will benefit Rick’s future grandchildren, and their friends and family.
Then, and only then, once the Value Gap is extremely deep, your customer will be begging to know what the price is, and you still don’t tell them. Instead, you recap; you go back through the Value Gap quickly mapping out the higher points. Make it hurt to think about not purchasing your services, and show Rick how it’ll feel all great and snuggly to buy your product for generations to come.
At this point, his perceived value of your product, to Rick as a unique individual, is monumental, easily ten times whatever you quote him for it, because it’s not just some software he’s buying, it’s a legacy, he’s literally buying his son’s and future children’s relationship with their grandmother. He’s purchasing a huge award (think of the brownie points) from his wife for being the best husband, father, and son-in-law that ever lived! Your low-costed software is now priceless. And you can name your price.