A Feature Too Far

A very good salesperson called me and said, “Steve, I just blew it.”

I said, “What, do you mean?”

She said, “I was on the phone with the president of a bank and I said, ‘I’ll make the changes to this contract as we just discussed. Would that be acceptable?’

He said, ‘Yes. If you make those changes, send it over. I will sign it.”

My friend went on to say, “It’s verbally closed and about to be signed. At that point I got so excited about the deal, I said, ‘Not only are you going to get A, B and C — we’ve already talked about that — but in addition you’re going to get D, and E, and F!”

Sales scale

She said, “I thought he would be excited.

Please pause and reflect. Is your current belief, like hers, that the more features and benefits you mention, the more it justifies your price?

To continue my friend’s story, the next words out of the bank president’s mouth were, “Can you give me a version without D, E and F. or give me a 50% discount?”
Why is he not excited? What he thought and did not say was, “D, E and F, eh? Well, I’m not sure I need that stuff, but I’m pretty sure I must be paying for it.”

Sales scale

Selling Principle: Adding bells and whistles, for which no underlying need has been revealed, will create price concerns and objections.

Every modern selling system puts some form of “need” on the left side of this seesaw.
You may recall Shakespeare’s Richard III and the king’s heart-wrenching cry: “A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!”

Sales scale

Value in the eyes of the buyer has little to do with your service or product and a lot to do with the problem he wants to solve or the advantage he wants to achieve. A truly consultative sales process is focused on deep diagnosis of the customer’s need.

When selling software as a service (SaaS), it is particularly common that we forget this most basic tenant about how to sell. Why? Because the training we get emphasizes how superior our solution is and that’s what we go tell out customers.

Selling value = diagnostic.

Premature presentations are uninformed by proper diagnosis and undercut this value.

If your current belief is that the more features and benefits you mention, the more it justifies your price, that incorrect belief will drive the wrong behavior, and yield the wrong result. As it did in this case.

Sales scale

If you update your mental map with the image above, that correct understanding of how buyers decide will drive the right action and the right result. Winning more sales.

Actions are a manifestation of your current beliefs.