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How The Best Solution Lost

A colleague and I were talking about a potential client recently and he was telling me about their recent decision process in choosing a vendor for a technology in a category related to ours. When he told me about their decision I asked why they didn’t choose what I thought was the obvious leader and the best choice. His answer surprised me; they said that the leader “was too much product for them”.

What’s surprising about this is that both vendors have similar features, offerings and price. The decision wasn’t based on product or cost; it was based on how the two products were communicated. One vendor presented their solution in a way that made sense for the customer while the other one, well, didn’t. I think there are a few lessons in this for us sales and marketing types:

  1. Listen: Before you jump into a pitch or proposal spend time on discovery and really listen to what the client is looking for. We all know that’s the right way to do it but do we do it?
  2. People buy solutions not features: After you’ve listened, think about the problem they’re trying to solve and how your product meets that need. This is where you start.
  3. Tailor the pitch: Resist the urge to tell the client all of the amazing things you can do and make the pitch fit their needs. Sometimes it’s about taking things away not putting things in.
  4. Get feedback: Ask them if you’ve hit the mark on the proposal or presentation. Did they get what they needed? Did it address their needs and problems?

It all sounds like common sense but when I heard the story I really started thinking about my marketing and presentations. Am I so anxious to tell the world about the all the cool things our products can do that I miss that we’re in the business of problem solving? It was a good gut check for me. What about you?

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