As I am writing the final chapters of my upcoming book about the ’10 traits of a remarkable software business, I am focused on ‘What drives a deal, and what are the causes to lose it.’
So, when I received an email this week from Gong.io, it was one fact that caught my eyes: ‘Feature dumping makes you 73% more likely to LOSE a deal.’
Gong.io knows because they are specializing in analyzing sales calls. However, beyond having the evidence right now, I already had a pretty good stomach feeling this was the case.
Features always seem so appealing to us. We’re proud to release them, and everyone needs to know about them. Sounds familiar? Moreover, while certain features make the difference, it’s not what the customer is looking for. So, where it often goes wrong is the lack of context. Very often there’s a disconnect between the world of the customer and the new capability in our solution. It’s the primary task of marketing and sales to make that connection crystal clear, but in the heat of the moment, that’s often forgotten.
As Gong.io stated about their analysis:
Sometimes, the insight they [sales] deliver gets a lukewarm response. That will make your reps nervous. When salespeople get nervous, they SCRAMBLE for what to do next. Nine times out of ten, that means “feature dumping.” Your reps will go straight to showing the product. After all, it seems like that’s what the buyer wants. They “throw spaghetti at the wall” and hope something sticks. That causes more trouble than you might think.
So, what can you do about it and eliminate this type of behavior or reaction?
Here are three tips that, from my own experiences, always work:
1)Identify the problem – the real problem
First, identify the most significant challenge your prospect has. This is about value and urgency. If they haven’t explained in their RFI: ask. Don’t settle with the first answer you get. Keep asking why until you are at the core. For example, the problem cannot be that the software they use today isn’t user-friendly enough. It’s the consequence of this that is the real problem: The delays this causes, the effect this has on customer experience, the impact this has on cash flow, profitability, top-line. I.e., the stuff that keeps them up at night.
2)Articulate the ‘one’ thing
Once you have the problem straight, you know you will resonate. That’s half the job done. From here, think about the one thing that you can offer to solve this problem like no one else. I deliberately say ‘one’ because less is always more. I am sure you have ten things you want to mention – but honestly, it won’t stick. And you want things to stick. Remember, your prospect will talk to five or more other vendors, and as such, you need to be top of mind – pole position.
3)Tell a story
Write down nine lines. Start with the core problem (the why), build tension by creating a gap between ‘what is,’ and ‘what can be’ i.e., the promise. This helps them envision what it will be like if they’d approach the problem with your solution. From here, you explain what sets you apart in doing so. Lastly, end with a strong call to action. Nine lines should be enough.
If you use a deck (I am not saying you should), optimize it, so you use the title of each slide to tell the story. Just go to slide-sorter mode and read the flow of your slide titles from start to finish. This story should convince your customer to go to the next step.
Friction creates action
Following this approach helps you connect the dots and tie your offering to the most challenging problem of your customer from start to finish. No matter if you are doing a presentation for a broad audience, a face to face meeting, or if you are doing cold calling behind your desk – this will help you to change perception, resonate and avoid feature dumping.
Sure, you’ll mention the critical feature or capability, but in a way it will provide the context to your prospect and address the friction head-on. That will help your prospect to draw up his/her conclusion in terms of ‘I want this!’ or ‘Not for me.’ Both are good. You want action, that’s what you’ll get.