In the book, Resolved: 13 Resolutions for Life, author Orrin Woodward explains that the brain engages about 2 million neurons when discussing something, but engages 400 million neurons when imagining something. Furthermore, when a person imagines something, the brain sees what it imagines as reality. You can bet the farm this will increase the odds of a closed sale and a satisfied client.
So how can a sales rep activate those 398 million additional neurons and have the kind of conversations that win deals? It’s done by engaging buyers in a simple discussion about usage and outcomes that causes them to envision your product or service in action, working for them.
Here are three keys to getting customers to envision using your offering with a usage and outcome discussion:
1. Train your sales reps to ask, not tell.
Never tell a customer what your offering can do for him/her. Ask questions instead.
A customer who is “told” will feel like he’s being “sold,” which often leads to objections. It’s better to prevent objections by asking how using your offering will meet their needs, achieve goals, or solve a problem.
Remember, the goal is to get your customer to imagine the outcome your offering will deliver. If you ask the right questions, it’s impossible for a customer to answer you without envisioning themselves using your product or service to get the results they desire.
2. Teach reps to use verbs, not nouns.
This is the key to getting item #1 right. Verbs are “action words,” and using them helps prospects envision doing that action using your product/service. This has more impact than talking about features and benefits because it creates ownership.
3. Target questions around what the customer can do with the product, not what the product can do for them.
For instance, if you are selling a two-sided grill to a hamburger restaurant, engage in a discussion about crowd volume and customer wait times during the lunch rush. Ask, “If you could serve 50 more customers in the same amount of time, how much more profit would you make?”
A rep selling Electronic Medical Records (EMR) software should talk with the doctors about how they use their current EMR software and the five steps it takes to record a patient visit. Then ask them to imagine doing it in only three steps with your software, and say, “What impact that would have on your daily productivity?”
But what if the customer’s answers aren’t sufficient?
If the buyers have not answered the rep’s questions in a way that indicates they think his solution is the one for them, the sales rep should not revert to talking about features and benefits. Instead, he should ask permission to share a story.
For example: you sell expense reporting software and your rep has engaged a buyer in a usage discussion regarding how it could be used to solve his problems. The rep might ask, “Mr. Buyer, you have multiple offices, and everyone submits manual expense reports. If everyone could submit them electronically and have the totals summarized automatically, how would that impact your department’s productivity? Would using such a process allow you to shift staff to different functions? How would centralizing expense reporting help you control expenses at the branch level?”
If the buyer has answered that question and still isn’t sold, your rep should say, “Mr. Buyer, may I share how one of our clients in a similar situation used our software to consolidate their expense reporting and the results they saw?” The rep would then share the story and ask, “Do you see yourself achieving similar results, and how?”
It’s all about usage and outcomes.
Customers buy products and services to use them. They desire and need results. Simply talking features and benefits is rarely effective – those things mean nothing until the product or service is used and results are seen. By engaging customers with questions that cause them to envision using your offering, your reps can use their buyers’ own imaginations to make the sale for them.