Sell The 20%

March 8, 2017 John Barrows

Think about all the products, technology and services you use. I bet you only use about 20% of whatever they’re capable of. Take Excel for instance. Excel is an insanely powerful tool yet most people just put a few numbers in the fields and click the “sum” equation to add them up. The same is true for what and how people buy. My experience is that customers only care about 20% of what our solutions offer and mainly only want the parts that align directly with their priorities. If that is the case, why not focus our selling efforts on that 20%?

Too many sales reps get caught up telling clients every little feature and function of their solution because they think it’s all important when it’s not. They go through their corporate deck slide by slide just like they did when they got their badge in bootcamp. The problem with this approach is that if everything you present is incredible, none of it will stand out. You’ll get beat by someone with a lesser solution who knows how to focus their presentation on what the client actually needs and what aligns with their priorities. They’re selling the 20%.

I wrote a post a while back about the one word you definitely do not want to hear at the end of your presentation. It’s the word “digest.” If you hear that word then you know you’ve done a terrible job with your presentation because it is our job to help prospects digest the information we’re putting in front of them.

This is why I want to make sure I can do as much discovery as possible before I present any solution. Almost all my discovery is focused on the client’s business priorities and what they are trying to accomplish as an organization. I want to understand why they might be looking for my type of solution and what business drivers are behind it. How does my solution address their priorities? Find that 20% utility.

To identify priorities in the past, I would simply ask a prospect: “Tell me about your priorities.” The result was often very vague answers like “revenue.” Then I would jump into my pitch about how I could impact their revenue which never really hit home. Now, I go in with some knowledge on the priorities for people and companies like them and ask clarifying questions to show I have a clue about what I’m talking about.

The priorities of those in similar roles and industries aren’t that hard to find, they’re a Google search away. Some industry expert is writing about them somewhere, we just need to go find them so we can preface our questions with something like: “We’re working with other CxOs in your industry who are telling us that walking into 2017 their top priorities are XYZ. Are those some of the same priorities you’re working on right now?” Even if they aren’t, the fact that we show we know their world a little bit more than the average sales rep tends to open them.

Before your next meeting, do a Google search on “top priorities, 2017, (industry), (role/title)” and see what comes up. Frame your questions to help uncover what their top priorities are and focus on the 20% of your product that can have the greatest impact on them. Make it Happen!

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