Personal Finance

Know product deeply but share the basics

Delving into deeper details of a product does not guarantee a sale. PHOTO | COURTESY
Delving into deeper details of a product does not guarantee a sale. PHOTO | COURTESY 

It doesn’t matter the type of gun you have so much as your ability to use it. This statement was made by a police reservist after the tragic Westgate terrorist attack, when he was asked by a reporter, “Were you not scared of the bigger guns the terrorists had compared to your hand gun?”

There is a sales lesson to be gleaned from his response: It doesn’t matter the product knowledge you have so much as your ability to use it.

And the paradox in selling is that, the more intimate your product knowledge, the less you should share when selling. The knowledge is to be used on a need-to-know basis, to use espionage parlance.

Unloading your knowledge (spraying your machine gun) onto the buyer, rarely gets you the sale; just a confounded (bullet-riddled) buyer.

Put yourself in his shoes. When you seek a school for your child, are you interested in the teaching methods of each tutor or are you satisfied with the presentation by the principal of what the school provides, their teaching methods, size of classroom and maybe a tour of said class?

This is not an excuse not to cosily interact with your product or service. You are like a doctor. Despite his deep well of knowledge which he continually deepens, he does not flood you with it, drowning you in the process. No. He shares with you only what you need to know. He says just enough to close.

What if the buyer needs more information? Well, same thing you do as when you are presenting your product.

You pile up the information layer by layer saying only what is necessary as you go along.

And what is necessary is what solves his problem. A head of IT friend of mind tells me of a time when his employer (a bank) was buying a core banking system.

This is the engine of a bank; it holds the entire database of account holders and records every transaction made. It is that critical.

He laughs today when he reflects on how the dealer who got the contract sold. “You know, I didn’t think about it then, but, unlike their competitor, they didn’t pitch their product and what it can do.

Instead, they sought to find out what we wanted in the system and having listed these on one of the two whiteboards they were presenting on, they then showed how their system meets each of the needs we had on the other whiteboard.

And for the few that didn’t tessellate, they assured us they could rejig the system to accommodate this. And they did.”

Now sceptics will say that this is cheating. That not divulging all the pros and cons of your product is lying. Well, so long as we agree that there is no prefect product; that even you, don’t seek out all the nooks and crannies of a service before you buy it; and that sellers should be ethical, then this point is moot. | [email protected]