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Product Demos: How to Sell Solutions Versus Products

outcomes vs features

Here’s a simple three-step approach for your product demos that will help you sell solutions versus products. It’ll make differentiation easier and improve your sales win rates.

In many cases, the product silos that exist within product management become transparent to buyers during the sales cycle, creating the perception you’ve got a bunch of fragmented products instead of integrated solutions. If this is the case, longer and more difficult sales cycles lie ahead and differentiation becomes more difficult.

Here’s your 3-step plan for selling business solutions versus products.

How to Sell Solutions Versus Products in 3 Steps

1. The BIG WHY and a “Strategic Value” Theme

For each prospect, find out why your products are ultimately being evaluated.  It’s not the obvious answers …productivity, costs, compliance, efficiency, customer retention, etc. It’s the BIG WHY – why these things are critical to the success of the organization at the C-level. It’s things like combatting price erosion for core products, being first to market instead of last, stemming declining market share, etc.

Once you know the BIG WHY, make it the strategic value theme of your pitch such that every scenario you demonstrate eliminates obstacles en route to that overall outcome.

2.  Consider Each Product a Feature of the Total Solution

Create a two column spreadsheet. In the first column, list the name of each product. In the second column, list that product’s primary purpose or the primary outcome it delivers.  Script your pitch according to how each product contributes to the overall value theme/outcome.

During the demo, there is no reason to refer to each product separately unless asked.  Talk about them as if they’re components of a total solution.

This approach also lends itself to showing fewer features due to the “bigger picture” focus.  Also, resist the temptation to load up the proverbial school bus with solution consultants!  The fewer the number of people delivering the demo, the easier and more integrated the solution will be perceived.

3.  Job Tasks & Outcomes vs Features or Problems

If your demo is based on capabilities of the product, it leaves you more vulnerable to questions and objections that have no relevance to the real issues, plus you run the risk of aimlessly rambling about features that may have no relevance. Unless asked, avoid at all costs the configuration details of how you got an end result. It just makes everything look complicated.

If your demo is based on job tasks, it does two things that make for a better demo. First, it centers the demo around what your buyers do versus what the products do. Second, you only have to show capabilities that eliminate the obstacles to completing each task successfully. In other words, your demo will show how it makes people better at their job in ways that have strategic value to their organizaiton.

More short scenarios are better than fewer long scenarios because they’re easier to digest and they create a perception of simplicity.  Close each scenario by reminding your prospects how the benefits at the user and department level support the overall strategic priorities at the executive level. If you say it enough, they will believe it.

The Bottom Line on Selling Solutions Versus Products

When you’re selling solutions, you project a level of customer knowledge that convinces buyers you understand their business far better than the competition, which leads to the assumption your products are also superior. In other words, your credibility is the real differentiation.

The most important thing to remember in any sales role is this. Buyers don’t buy because they understand you. They buy because they’re convinced you understand them. That’s what makes your products and your company more attractive than the competition.

If you want to transition your product demos from products to solutions, make differentiation easier and improve win rates, check out Product Management University Demo Courses, on-demand or live, and get certified in value-based demos.

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by John Mansour on December 5, 2023.