In this article we look at two different sales approaches: Image Sales and Technical Sales.
Some products are easier to sell when you emphasize their image, status or glamour more than their features and benefits.
Someone interested in buying a Rolls Royce or Bentley is not all that concerned with their features and benefits. They know these automobiles have desirable features and they automatically factor in the benefits.
Those automobiles and cars like Lamborghinis make a statement all by themselves. They convey affluence, status, success, economic independence, wealth, power, importance, influence… however you want to look at it.
Cars such as these are typically sold in prestigious showrooms where the sales approach – on the surface- may appear more laid back.
The sales people have to know how to establish a rapport and communicate smoothly and confidently with the wealthy and influential. Their manner, their dress, their vernacular all have to be in line with the expectations of the clientele they serve.
This doesn’t mean they have to be very reserved and staid. Today, many athletes and celebrities can easily afford premium automobiles. And they would expect to deal with a sales person who has some spirit, some energy as well as being very professional and knowledgeable about what he or she is selling.
It’s not just the “old money” that’s buying prestigious high-end vehicles. Or very high-end homes.
So this is definitely a case of, “know your customer.”
Yes, you need to be able to show off the features of whatever you are selling and know what benefits they translate into (see our blog article on Features & Benefits selling), but you must also know how to properly convey the image, status or “romance” of what you are selling.
One way to keep this in mind is the old saying, “sell the sizzle, not the steak.”
In the following example, two salespeople are selling the same product. But they use two different approaches. All other things being equal, which person do you think has the best chance at closing the deal.
Salesperson “A” uses the steak approach: He sells, “time shares in high-end Hawaiian condos.”
Salesperson “B” uses the sizzle approach: She sells, “romantic hideaways in paradise.”
Look for the romance or image or drama in the product or service you are marketing or selling. If it has some, sell that. And as a general rule, always emphasize benefits more than features.
When marketing or selling to technical buyers, professional buyers, product enthusiasts, engineers and the like, you can actually turn them off by over emphasizing benefits over features.
These types of buyers are interested in specs. Wikipedia states that specs are “an explicit set of requirements to be satisfied by a material, design, product, or service.”
Pro buyers want to compare your service or product’s attributes to other competing products on the market.
Do they still want benefits? Perhaps. But you had better stress your “superior” technical specs and features if you want to win them over.
Here is a quote from Vivian Sudhalter, who at the time of this quote was the Director of Marketing for New York-based Macmillan Software Co. It is a very true statement of how to approach the engineering and scientific marketplace…
“Despite what tradition tells you, the engineering and scientific marketplace does not respond to promise – or benefit – oriented copy. They respond to features. Your copy must tell them exactly what they are getting and what your product can do. Scientists and engineers are put off by copy that sounds like advertising jargon.”
And Don Jay Smith, who at the time was president of the Chatham, New Jersey-based ad agency, The Wordsmith says,
“I’ve tested many mailings selling engineering components and products to OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), and I’ve found that features and specs outpull benefits almost every time.”
This all boils down to the maxim: Know Your Customer. What do they really need or want? What do they expect? What are their “go-buttons.” If you don’t know, you better found out – quickly!
Written by Bob Nelson
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