Over the last few weeks I have been working with many great companies who can solve real problems for clients but they struggle to sell their services. In my opinion this is not because they don’t have a good product, but because they don’t know how to sell to business customers: They focus on what they think is important, not what is important to the customer. They explain all the technical aspects, rather than how it meets their customers’ needs. In today’s climate, the only way to make your product stand out is to show your customers how it solves their problems, in a language they understand.

When trying to influence anyone to do anything it is essential to understand the way they see the world; you must understand what is important to them and then position your product or service appropriately. Your perspective customers are only interested in what is important to them, not what you think is important about your product. So, your first step is to identify their needs by conducting a Voice of the Customer exercise. From this point you can look at your solution to determine how it helps solve their problems. The last step is positioning your product or service in their language and in the way they will understand it.

Let’s focus on the last step.

Give them what they want

Position your solution to stimulate your customer. As an example you might think that your IT solution is amazing as it has the latest processor, a futuristic look and an amazing user interface. Your customer, on the other hand is only thinking that they want to conduct tasks quickly and efficiently, and that it’s simple to train new users. You need to make sure you match their plain English style and tell them why the latest processor makes things faster and how the new interface is more intuitive, cutting down training time.

Similarly, you might think your product is the latest green technology and will benefit the planet and boost people’s green credentials. Your customer is interested in the fact that it enables them to make savings by reducing their energy usage and their waste. So sell it on these principles, using the green credentials as an added bonus.

Business improvement gives you many opportunities to position your product or service to help you sell. Every business is working on some kind of a business improvement approach. Everyone is looking to find ways to remove non-value added steps, to standardise their processes to speed things up, stop making mistakes or to get more from their current resources be they man or machine.

Sell solutions, not products

Lots of the companies I meet actually have the solutions to these problems. They might have the solution to reduce the cost of printing; giving you more data to understand what happens in managed print in the business, while changing the culture of the organisation to print less and to move towards a paperless office. The problem is that the people running the projects don’t know you can do that for them so when they get to the stage where they are implementing new solutions they won’t even consider you. They’ll go to someone else that is explicit about the ability to solve their problems.

When you are thinking about positioning, think about how you can approach it from the same perspective as business improvement. Think about how you can approach the people who are solving these problems in their business. Think about things from the customers’ perspective.

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