Sales 101 teaches the importance of features and benefits.  But before you talk about them, you need to identify the value an individual stakeholder is looking for.  And they’re going to be quite different.

So before you pull out your fancy presentation, stop and ask yourself, who you’re dealing with.  Each person wants answers to 3 questions.

  • Why this?
  • Why now?
  • Why me?

And the level of detail will vary significantly from big picture – high level business outcomes to nitty gritty, “how do I use this”.

Senior leaders want one thing.  A strategic business advantage.  To make more money, reduce costs, improve productivity.  They’re not interested in how your product works, just that it does what it claims.

If you don’t have conversations at this level, you’ll rapidly lose their attention.  (And the sale)

Management Stakeholders want tangible outcomes.  How specific productivity improves.  How customers can be serviced more efficiently with less errors.  Most want to know HOW it works and will deliver results they need.

Supporting people are often enablers of your product.  Could be an IT department or Accounts which needs to integrate your solution.  While they don’t use your product directly, they’re generally concerned with how much effort they’ll need to put in to do.  Note that many a sale is kyboshed because these people refuse to play ball.

So ensure you help them understand their lives won’t become more difficult.

And finally, End Users.

They’re really, really interested in your features and benefits.  At a nitty gritty level.  They’ll be using your product, so you need to get them onboard.

Once again, I’ve seen implementations fail even though there’s buy in from other levels, but users simply won’t adopt the new system.

So wherever possible, have different conversations with each type of buyer.  And should they all be in the room together, take a top down approach.  Big picture to small details.

Starting with the overall strategic results means your senior buyers can then leave, while you focus on the rest.

Everyone will be happier and you’ll move the sale forward more efficiently.

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