Sell Value: The customer becomes your sales tool

My recent post The Genius Behind Never Logging Into The Software I Was Selling, has generated a great deal of off-line discussion.  I wish much of it was captured in the blog itself – so I’ll try to capture some of it and put it in here.

Certain individuals seemed to miss the point – somehow interpreting what I was saying as promoting a sale that was ingenuine.  In fact, I’m promoting just the opposite.  I’m promoting the fact that what you need to sell is the value of your software, and if YOU understand the value ABOVE the noise of how the software does it – then you will actually be better at finding the proper solution for the customer – and identifying IF they need it at all.

If you can sell the customer on WHY the software makes sense for them, and you’ve spent the time to understand how the software does that, then you can certainly will have an internal champion.  If the customer is “closed” in terms of value – then actually completing the close becomes much easier.  They become your internal sales tool, because THEY will look for ways to overcome the objections.

Here is what I mean:

Sales Scenario 1:  You go on your sales call and show the software and talk about how it can improve processes, and how its so easy to configure, etc.  You get to a screen that is more complicated than he is used to seeing – in fact – all the configuration possibilities scare the customer.  They are there because you are selling a generic product so that’s good – and you are proud of that.  Yet, it scares the customer because your potentially adding complexity they don’t have.  Now, you try to explain why it makes sense overall.  You try to make your case, but in the back of the customer’s mind, he is thinking about the software and how it may cause him pain to get running.

Sales Scenario 2:  You go on your sales call and talk about the value of the software.  What it has done for his/her industry… how it saves money… how it improves processes… testimonials… etc.   You take the time to understand his/her process as it stands today.   You build a trust that you KNOW the industry and that you understand the pain that they understand.  Then you start crafting a better process in his mind – which ultimately maps to your software – but you aren’t showing your software.  Perhaps a small screenshot here and there – but ultimately never logging into the software.

If you’ve done your job right in scenario 2, then the customer is sold ever before you get to log into the software.  You will know this is the case, when they start figuring out the configuration and workarounds of the software once they see it.  Why are they willing to live with workarounds?  Well, they bought into the VALUE.  They know that software can change – and if they are a good customer – you will often change it for them.

My proudest sale is one where I convinced a very large recognizable brand to use my software for their core business.  They were going to put software from the company that I started in front of their entire ability to generate revenue.  I’m proud of it because the first time they saw the software was when I was in final contract negotiations.  I sent my VP of Product Development to the tech team while I went to the CIO’s office to close the deal.  They NEVER saw the software short of screenshots.

They bought on VALUE.

Oh and by the way… the project was ENORMOUSLY successful   🙂