Sunday, June 22, 2008

Thoughts on salesmanship

I was reading an article about the importance of sales in any organization and that got my mental wheels turning. I figured I could use my blog as "lessons learned" ledger, so here's what worked for me when I was trying to sell my Smart Shopping Solution to grocery stores:

- First and foremost, confidence in my product and sales skills. It was uncanny how people I was making my sales pitch to could instantly pick up when I was less than completely confident.

- Characterizing and selling my product as meeting an unmet need, as opposed to a "want". Sounds simple enough, but it took me a couple of failed pitches to figure this out.

- This one took me completely by surprise, but in hindsight make sense: having a competitor is VERY important on a couple of levels. Potential customers get uneasy when they think they're guinea pigs for a new technology or a new product. The more adventurous will try to use that to their negotiating advantage. Plus, it's really hard to make a case that you're fulfilling a need and not a frivolous want when you claim there's no other company in the world that does what you do!

- Fairly basic lesson learned during my days in corporate America trying to communicate with people who are not involved in the nuts and bolts of engineering the product, basically any one who was not an engineer and a co-worker: describe the product in terms of benefits to the target audience, not features. No matter how cool, or gee-whiz-bang the feature is, save it for fellow geeks who actually get the"it's not a bug, it's a feature!" joke.

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