Keep it Simple!

"Keep it simple!  No matter how "sophisticated" the product.  If you can’t explain it in a phrase, a page, or to your 14-year old…you haven’t got it right yet."

Tom Peters
111 Ridiculously Obviously Obvious Thoughts ON SELLING

Peters is very good at following his own advice, up to a point.  His 111 thoughts could probably have been communicated in fewer than the seventeen pages of this "manifesto".  But this point, number 46, is one we should all keep in mind (especially long-winded bloggers). 

We all sell sophisticated products that we work with every day.  More than ever, with the huge amount of information available on the Internet, our customers may be very knowledgeable about what we sell.  Or they may not.  It’s up to us to find out how much they know and tailor our presentation accordingly.

If it’s obvious that they’ve done their homework, then it’s ok to use some industry jargon.  In fact, giving this customer credit for what they know can be a huge ego-builder for them.  They become part of the "club", an insider, when you speak to them on this higher level.

But, there’s still a huge number of people out there who couldn’t care less about specs.  They don’t really want to buy what our product is, they want to buy what our product does. Watts, amps, air flow, CFM, BTUs, etc.  mean nothing to this customer.  As Peters says, how would you explain the product to a fourteen-year old?

For example, I have several chores that need to be done at home.  I’ve decided that a pressure washer would make my life easier.  But, picking one out is turning out to be a bigger project than the jobs themselves.  I’m beginning to understand why they’re called "pressure" washers.

There are electric and gas models.  Performance is measured by gallons per minute, pressure per square inch, horsepower, and some magical number called cleaning units.  If a unit isn’t powerful enough, it won’t do the job, or it will take forever.  If it’s too powerful, you’re wasting your money and you might end up doing some serious damage.  Another consideration is that I don’t have unlimited storage space for a tool that I’ll only use a few times per year.  I need someone to tell me "here’s the machine that will do what you want it to do."  So far, no luck.

Bottom line?  Qualify the customer.  Find out what they need and what they know.  Use your expertise to gently guide them to the item that will do the best job for them and then explain it in a language that they understand. 

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