The first step in selling anything is getting people interested in what you've got to sell. Unfortunately, many companies have sales messages that are either confusing or boring (or both). Potential customers tune out, thereby reducing sales.

This post provides a simple technique to improve your sales messages and therefore increase sales. The trick, however, is only meaningful if you understand the real problem. Crappy sales messages fall into three broad categories.

  1. Feature lists. "Our product handles data sets larger than 10 terabytes, is compliant XY77 standards..."  These messages are ineffective because they force the customer figure out how those features might be useful.
  2. Vague benefits. "Our product increases your productivity and reduces costs."  These messages are ineffective because every B2B product makes these exact same promises. The customer shrugs and moves on.
  3. Biz-blab lists. "We are a sales enablement platform that uses big data across the cloud..." These messages are ineffective because they're generic (like vague benefits) AND confusing (like feature lists.)

The hallmark of all crappy sales messages is that they fail to articulate the unique value of a product from a customer's viewpoint.  Fortunately, I've devised a mental trick that forces you to create a better sales message.

  1. Imagine you're a happy customer who just bought your product. Smile.
  2. Imagine that a 12-year-old comes by and asks, "Why are you smiling?"
  3. Explain why you're happy in words that the 12-year-old will understand.

Yes, it's really that easy.

Earlier this week, I tested this method at a technical conference which had about a dozen vendor booths. Every vendor (without exception) had crappy sales messages on their signage.

When I asked the vendor reps at the booths what they were selling, they invariably launched into the same kind of crappy message that was on their signage.

I interrupted them. Then I asked: "Suppose I'm a happy customer. Why, exactly, am I happy? Explain it to me like I'm a 12-year old."

In every case, the vendor rep came up with a simple, understandable reason why I was a happy customer. Here are some examples:

Before: "We provide a collaborative environment where multiple teams can move sales documents through a workload chain."

After: "You're happy because it takes half as much time to get a sales proposal written and approved."

Before: "Our sales enablement platform represents customer environments and decision makers through an easy-to-use, point-and-click GUI."

After: "You're happy because you've got a map showing who's important at the customer site, who they work for, why they're involved in making decisions, and how to get them on board."

Can you see the difference?  Can you see why the "after" messages will win more customers?

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