Selling the Invisible — Part One
Make the invisible visible in your customer’s terms
Maybe you sell a service or you sell a micronutrient. Anything that is not an apparently visible product can be difficult to explain or show the value to your customers. Sure, we can see a 50# bag of yeast or a gallon of fungicide. But that’s all we see, a bag of powder or a jug of liquid. It might as well be a bag of wheat midds and a gallon of water for all the customer knows. We head out every day and call on customers with the latest slide deck of technical data, charts, graphs and research. Putting our customers to sleep after the fourth slide, we continue on and on because we want them to understand how our product works better than before or better than our competition’s. All the while, sounding just like every other technical sales presentation our customer hears.
If you sell a service, it’s worse. You don’t even have a 50# bag or gallon jug to talk about. So, you jump in with the what and the how of your service. “We do this and we do that. Then we do this!”
There certainly is a time and place to go over the technical side of our products and to pull out the data. There’s a need to go over the how and what we do as a service. However, I am encouraging you not to lead with this information as we often do.
Here’s a few thoughts
- Make it relatable in your customer’s terms: In a recent article on the importance of export to Iowa agriculture, the author used a great way to explain. I’ll paraphrase the author. She said, “Every 3rd pig and every 4th row of corn raised in Iowa is exported.” What a great way to explain in a very easy and relatable way for anyone. She simply converted percentages into animals and rows. Our grain producers think in terms of crop rows, acres, bins and truckloads of grain. Animal producers think in terms of animals, pounds of milk/milk tanks and truckloads of finished animals. If you sell to agribusiness operations, the examples are endless. Take the result of your product or service and convert it to your customer’s end product. If you achieve a 10% efficiency with your product or service, then explain it’s like getting 55# for the price of 50 or it’s like getting an extra 10 pallets of feed for every 100 you make. If it’s time, you can say you help them get 26 hours out of every 24-hour day.
- “A picture is worth 1,000 words; a video is worth 1,000 pictures but a demo unit is worth 1,000 videos”: We’ve all heard the first part of this quote. However, I’ve added a few extra points to help you sell. Technical slide decks coming from the marketing and research department are great. However, your customer simply doesn’t have the time nor attention span to go through all of them. If they do, they will tell you. It’s up to you as their salesperson to decipher the vast amount of information into the 45-minute sales meeting they agreed to give you and make it relevant to their farm. Push back on your marketing department to get video or shoot your own video if you can. Some of the best pictures or video in making the invisible visible is Before & After and With & Without. “Here’s a picture of this pen of pigs before our product and here’s a picture after” or “Here’s a soybean field that didn’t use our fungicide and across the road is a field that used our fungicide” If you have been making sales calls for any length of time, you know how proud a producer is of their healthy animals and their good-looking fields.
A demonstration or demo of your product can be achieved by letting the person see, touch or feel the end product. It could be two ears of corn that show the difference in using your products. It could be a software program or app that the customer can sample how to change the variables to determine how the program works. It can be a miniaturized sample of whatever result your product or service achieves. Think of the 55# bag or extra truck of grain. Reach out to your marketing department and see if one of their promo companies could create a demo model to demonstrate this result.
Making the invisible visible is easy and fun to do when the creative thoughts start flowing. So, in between your sales calls today, turn off the radio, put down your phone and start thinking about how you can make your invisible products and services come to life for your customer!
Please join me next time in Coach’s Corner as we uncover the power of stories and the Customer Ladder in part 2 of “Selling the Invisible”.