Thursday, January 21, 2010

Features tell; benefits sell

Whether or not our job title says Sales, we're all in sales. Every day we're promoting ourselves, a proposal, a service or product, concept or idea. We may be speaking one-to-one, leading a meeting or in front of a group. We may be face-to-face, on the phone or exchanging emails. No matter what or who, we need to think about what's going to motivate or persuade them. We're all tuned to a radio station: WII-fm. What's in it for me? All too often, we try to sell something based on what motivates us. And we talk too much about its features. A feature is what a product or service does; a benefit is what it does for the customer, client, end-user or decision maker. Seems like a simple concept, but it's surprisingly difficult to get your head around.

Say you sell screwdrivers. You might say, "Our Magnojet screwdriver has a magnetized tip." A potential customer would likely respond, "So what?" All you've given them is a feature. Turn it into a benefit: "Ever had trouble sinking a screw because you kept dropping it? Our Magnojet screwdriver has a magnetized tip so it holds the screw in place until you can sink it—even in tight places!" (Can you tell I've been there?) That's what your customer needs to feel—I've been there and this takes care of my problem. If you are in sales, check out Jeffrey Gitomer's Sales Caffeine. Its a Weekly Multi-media Sales Jolt!

Of course, we need to apply this concept to sell ideas, too. Say you're proposing a new system for taking and processing orders. You can tell the group your proposal is more efficient or you can sell it by giving them the results of your research. You would have calculated the time to take and process orders under the old system and your proposed system. Then you'd calculate the costs based on salaries and demonstrate the time and dollars saved. Sold!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Social Skill: One of the five components of emotional intelligence

Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, defines social skill as "friendliness with a purpose: moving people in the direction you desire, whether that's agreement on a new marketing strategy or enthusiasm about a new product." Purpose and enthusiasm remind me of my Mother, who would have turned 90 today. She died last March and, of course, I'm often reminded of her. She loved finding out about people and would plan gatherings in her apartment with one person as the focal point. She was fascinated about where they had grown up, where they had studied, where they had lived and the career paths they had traveled. Mother was an excellent teacher and leader. If you lead people, you'll want to read a comprehensive article by Goleman published in the Harvard Business Review. Entitled What Makes a Leader?, you can download it for $6.50. I'd call that intelligent!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Setting S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals for the new decade

With a new year many of us have made resolutions. Thing is, they're more like wishes and are rarely accomplished. How about starting this new decade by setting goals that can be achieved? I'm not usually high on acronyms, but this one seems to hit the mark: S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals are specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, time-bound, able to be evaluated or adjusted and provide a reward when accomplished. President John F. Kennedy set such a goal before a joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961, "I believe this nation should commit itself to achieve the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth." Was it accomplished? Of course! On July 20th, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin walked on the moon and returned safely to earth. What are your goals for the new year? For the new decade?