Bob Miller, one of the founders of Miller Heiman Group, said:
“No one buys a product or service per se. What is bought is what the customer thinks the product or service will do for him or her”
Ivan Misner, founder of BNI, talk about Benefits, not Features. Conventional wisdom is that features are “the basic facts” and Benefits are the value to the customer.
But how does that tie to building a business case and a pitch that closes a sale?
The key is to connect to what Bob Miller coined as the Customer Concept*, i.e. what is the customer looking to fix, accomplish or avoid.
This connection enables a decision by the customer to do something, to make a change, to reprioritise. We all put up with a lot of things we aren’t particularly satisfied within business – in that context it’s worth considering that “do nothing different” is our biggest competitor. Indifference is a safe place for a customer!!
A successful pitch is the last step of a decision process for a customer to make a change.
There are plenty of examples of sales closing techniques which often refer to “keeping things real”, “using empathy” or “creating a sense of urgency” – it can be quite confusing.
So, here is a simple four part, customer-centric formula for closing a sale that shifts a customer from indifference to a desire to change, that includes us!!
There are four parts to the formula:
1. Summarise their “So What”. Provided you have surfaced their real needs, you are presenting a customer-centric need for change
2. Create a compelling vision. This is the “What if”. As Bob Miller said what the customer thinks the product or service will do that justifies a decision to invest in change
3. The solution – This is the How. It’s not about a quote! It needs to be simple, yet concise and compelling.
4. The last piece is the “Prove it”. This is where we use stories, examples, industry knowledge or other “proof” that demonstrates our ability to deliver.
But rather than “the Pitch”, perhaps we should call it “the Passion” because it’s this very moment that underlines why we are doing what we do.
This results in a positive shift from being salesy to becoming accountable for achieving positive change for the customer.
This is often when we really differentiate ourselves and create the opportunity to keep building a successful business.
Phil Hunt MBA
Hunt Consultants – Building Competitive Advantage
1 May 2018
*Miller Heiman Group. The New Conceptual Selling. Robert B. Miller and Stephen E. Heiman. Business Plus. Hachette Book Group. Copyright 2005.