Selling a product to a buyer in today’s market can be difficult with so many competitors offering similar solutions. The tendency is to differentiate yourself by providing detailed product messaging, but this isn’t always the case.
In the latest Takeover episode, Bernard Brower, Former VP IT North American Consumer Group, Global R&D – J&J, discusses what a buyer is really looking for and how to foster future sales.
Missing the mark with product messaging
Imagine you’re trying to sell your product to a buyer. They’ve let you know that another buyer has approached them with a similar offer. In an attempt to set yourself apart, you begin to rattle off technical product features. The buyer’s interest wanes.
”What can your product do that I can’t do now, and how does that create value for my organization?” — Bernard Brower
If you truly want to stand apart, there’s two essential qualities that your product must have: an ability to provide value and solve problems the business is trying to solve, and relevance. It no longer matters if you have a great product; if your product doesn’t solve a specific need of the business, it won’t succeed.
The product also must solve a business problem in the present. For example, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important to provide remote-work security solutions than a solution that will only benefit the business five years down the road. So, rather than spend your time explaining technical details, let the business know how your product will add value at that moment in time.
Tipping the scale with similar products
When a seller is trying to show value to a company, differentiating it from similar competitors, it can be beneficial to know what buyers are looking for on average. Bernard shares what has tipped the scale for him:
- Scalability: In the vast majority of cases, you want solutions that you can provide globally — where specialists are available to help implement everywhere.
- Future development: You should be able to provide a product roadmap that shows future capabilities of the product. You never want to be a single, one-time buy.
- Financial stability: You want to provide confidence that your company will be around in 5 to 10 years so that the buyer knows that support will be available.
- Agility with product development: The turnaround time to fix gaps between what you need and what your product offers needs to be quickly addressed.
- Platform approach: Providing a platform gives the buyer a lot more freedom than a product approach.
Provider features are becoming much more important to the buyer than product features. It won’t matter if you have a great product if it doesn’t match the preferences of the business you’re selling to.
How a marketer stays top of mind
For a lot of buyers that were surveyed, 95% felt that finding sellers in the marketplace was the easiest part of the buyer’s journey. So, then, what is the process for buyers and how can a seller stay on a short list?
For Bernard, he looks at qualities such as: how they operate in the marketplace, whether they’re having any challenges, if they’re moving fast enough, and expertise in the market. Afterwards, if they’ve received a recommendation from a conference, a buyer would move forward with a conversation.
“To me, the whole thing is around industry expertise,” Bernard explains.
What to look for in a product pilot
Down the funnel, the buyer will eventually get to the product pilot. The top quality Bernard looks for? Agility. If the product does not function how it should or needs additional features, the turnaround time for the update is essential. It’s a way to show value early on and compatibility with the internal team. In the end, it all comes down to the relationship.
In today’s market, it’s not nearly as much about the product as the relationship built between buyer and seller. With tough competition, the only way to differentiate yourself is creating trust that your product is great — and that every future product will be great as well.
”I would stick with the ones we were dealing with, because you knew them, there was trust there, they knew us, you knew that you’ve been through the harder times and better times.” — Bernard Brower
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