What sounds better to a potential customer: “Our widgets are made from very strong polycarbonate,” or, “Because our polycarbonate widgets break down less frequently, each one saves you twenty dollars over the industry leader.” When you put it like that – to someone who is in need of widgets – the product practically sells itself!
As a business owner, I expect you already know that. You can’t successfully sell your widgets (or widget-services, if you sell a service rather than a product) unless you know how to market them and how to best present them to a potential customer. A salesperson doesn’t really sell a product – they sell the benefits that the product brings to a buyer.
Here’s an example: I worked with a company owner who proudly proclaimed, “In 2011, we began selling in retail stores and revenues increased by 18.3 per cent.” That’s nice, but it doesn’t explain why that fact is so important. How about, “Aside from 2008, revenue has grown year-over-year from 2002 to 2012. While our sales have historically been the result of direct marketing efforts, in 2011 we developed strong relationships with two of the three largest retailers in the industry, which will continue to drive sales forward far more quickly than in the past.”
This way of thinking isn’t limited to the process of selling your company. It’s also a valuable tool for crafting your business plan. Why are you starting a new product line? Why are you expanding your web site to accommodate international customers? If you’re considering a particular change, but you can’t articulate the benefits that it would bring your company, it might not be the best course of action.
When you reframe your company’s purpose not as providing a particular product, but rather as providing a certain set of benefits to your customers, it can transform the way you do business – not only when it comes time to sell your company, but also for the business choices you make every day.