Many salespeople spend too much of their time becoming experts on a product instead of what their product actually does for the buyer.
I learned very early in my career that people didn’t (still don’t) care about what it was I was selling. They cared about the benefit or the outcome as it pertained to them.
For example, when I worked for the Tampa Bay Rays, I didn’t sell season tickets. I sold family time with the wife and kids or client retention —depending on whom I was talking to.
Chances are, a buyer can find your product features online, and they’ll research ten other companies with similar products before talking to you.
The good news is, this doesn’t mean they can decide without you. Counterintuitively, all of this accessible information can make buyers feel uncertain and stressed. It’s up to you to paint the picture.
We do this by anchoring to outcomes over the product and making our buyers feel excited about our solution because it aligns with their priorities.
How to Talk About What Buyers Care About (Outcomes)
If you can’t readily identify the outcomes your product provides, there are two things you can do to fix this:
1. Industry trends per buyer persona
Step one is to identify your different buyer personas. If you and your company have already done that work, then you’re on the right track. But it’s not enough to just know who your buyers are, but what’s happening in their industry that is affecting them.
In one of my first professional sales roles, my boss handed me a binder about an inch thick of industry trends. This thick binder helped me to pinpoint what each of my buyers was going through in their industry, and connect what I was selling to the outcomes they were looking for.
Become an expert in your buyer’s industry and stay up to date on those trends.
2. Ask stupid questions
Don’t be afraid to ask stupid questions. In reality, they’re not all that stupid; they just show your lack of experience or knowledge about a subject, which is why we ask questions in the first place.
Being naturally curious allows you to move and learn more quickly. For example, you may ask, “I don’t know a lot of Directors of Operations. What are your two top responsibilities?”
Not only do you now know what this director cares about and can connect the outcomes; on your next call with a Director of Operations, but you can also say that you know exactly where you can provide the most value and not have to ask that “stupid” question.
What would an outcome statement sound like versus a product statement?
I’ll give you a basic example before looking at how these statements and conversations may shift per outbound channel (email, call, LinkedIn).
Scenario: You’re selling a sales engagement platform to a sales development team leader or other frontline team leader.
Product Statement: [Product Name] allows you to create sequences of activity and reach out to people more efficiently.
Outcome Statement: You never have to remember who you should be following up with again, and you’ll have the data to continually improve and get better, so your team can increase meetings by X%.
How to Get Buyers to Care via Email, Call, and LinkedIn
How to talk about outcomes via email vs. call vs. LinkedIn doesn’t differ tremendously, but there are a few nuances to each that you’ll want to consider.
We know that we want to keep our emails short and sweet. Focusing on the outcomes in an email is more concise and allows you to make your point faster.
Also, there is a groundwork component in your first couple of emails to talk about you or your company. But instead of describing what you do as “I do XYZ,” again, make sure to describe the outcome.
“At [Company], we work with forward-thinking CEOs who are trying to decrease their sales cycle by 5% and increase their numbers of net new meetings by 10%. Is this something that resonates with you?”
Not: “At [Company], we help to build playbooks and increase demand generation.”
Call is similar to email, but now that you’re on the phone and can have a two-way conversation, you have the opportunity to converse about the problem sets that your outcomes solve. Frame your questions around if they have an outcome problem, not if your product resonates.
“Hey John, are you starting to think about ways that your team needs to generate 10% more meetings?”
Not: “Hey John, are you looking for more effective ways for your team to do outreach?”
Use the information your prospect is putting out on LinkedIn to frame your message. The more you can find out about their unique needs, the better.
“Hey Mary, I saw on your profile that XYZ. Based on other VPs of Operations, I know increasing ZYX is also top of mind.
We helped these [2 very specific manufacturers] decrease X by 5% and increased Y by 10%. I think it makes sense for us to connect.”
Not: “Hey, Mary. My company provides X to [manufacturer type]. As a VP of Operations, I think it would make sense for us to connect.”
Why You Should Care About Outcomes During and Post-COVID
As with almost everything else in sales and our lives, COVID has impacted how we sell outcomes.
- The top-level is checking in more, which means selling the business impact is now critical.
- COVID also upped the ante in that sellers now have to know how their solution will impact two or three outcomes versus just one.
Many teams may have been able to get away with just focusing on the product in the past, but the need to focus on outcomes over product is one more thing COVID accelerated.
As the top-level stays more involved in buying decisions, outcomes aren’t a “trend” going away soon.
Stop selling your product and start selling outcomes. That’s really it.
You have to be fanatical about understanding your buyer, and if you don’t understand them, circle on back up to the “How to Talk About What Buyers Care About” section and take note.
Your buyer doesn't care that you’re trying to sell a product. They’ll care if you highlight the critical outcomes that will make a real impact on their role, department, and business.