For all of you pre-sales solution consultants and sales engineers looking for new ways to differentiate your demos, step away from your products for a quick minute. Sure, the product is what prospects are buying in the literal sense, but with few exceptions, the biggest thing that’ll differentiate your products and your organization in the sales process is…YOU!
The Simple Secret to Differentiation
Think about someone you really enjoyed buying from. What made that buying experience so enjoyable? Personality, credibility and product knowledge come into play, but think beyond that.
There’s a good chance the salesperson related to you in a way that made you completely comfortable. What was it they said or did that made you so comfortable, and how did they do it?
You probably felt like your salesperson completely understood your situation and was able to talk about it in the same exact way you do. Think about the emotional connection you form with people when both of you think exactly alike on certain things. It happens almost immediately.
That’s the simple secret to setting yourself apart from the competition in the sales process, especially the product demo. Convince your prospects you think about their business just like they do and watch your win rate go up. Be relatable!
Here’s how to do it.
How Solution Consultants Become the Key to Differentiation
If you’re a pre-sales solution consultant, there are two parts to the differentiation equation. The first is table stakes. The second is the one that makes you the person others enjoy buying from!
1. Business Domain Expertise
This one you already know about, the importance of having domain expertise in the area of the customer’s business where your products are used. Business practices, new and old, are always a big part of the discussion when you’re demonstrating your solutions.
It’s usually the case that buyers want to accomplish something that’s currently difficult or impossible because their current technology or lack thereof is standing in the way.
As a solution consultant, your ability to facilitate discussions around the business domain are critical to enhancing the perception of your product’s value, but it’s not enough to set you apart from the competition or give buyers the push they need to get the deal done with a sense of urgency.
2. Industry Expertise
Industry expertise is where solution consultants and sales engineers have the biggest opportunity to differentiate their products and their organization in the sales process.
It’s like the “location, location, location” mantra in real estate except in this case it’s “context, context, context.”
Imagine how much richer the conversation can be when you combine your business domain expertise (above) and discuss it in the context of the buyer’s industry?
Now you’re discussing business operations and best practices in IT, HR, finance, engineering, etc. in the context of what they mean and their impact on the current landscape in healthcare, retail manufacturing, etc.
Here’s the perception it creates for your buyers. It gives them the perception that because you understand their business and their industry far better than the competition, your products must be superior. On top of that, it creates the perception your company is an expert in their industry and they’ll be more successful working with you as a partner.
I can speak to this firsthand. I was a pre-sales solution consultant in my first software job. I stepped into that role as a former customer and practitioner coming from a large well-known healthcare provider.
My domain expertise in supplier management, procure-to-pay processes and supply distribution in healthcare was invaluable. I never lost a healthcare deal in the three years I was in a pre-sales role. I lost a few in other industries, but never healthcare.
Here’s what I did to bolster my expertise in other industries and improve my win rates.
Two Action Items to Bolster Your Industry Expertise
Here are two action items that’ll take your demos to the next level:
- Spend as much time as possible researching and learning the industry dynamics of the buyers in your pipeline and understand how those industry dynamics and industry strategies impact the areas of the business that use your products.
- After you’ve won a deal, meet with those customers on a regular basis following their onboarding process. Gain a deeper understanding of how they’re using your products and more importantly, the outcomes they’re after and WHY those outcomes are important to the business given their industry dynamics.
In other words, form personal relationships with your customers across industry verticals and they’ll keep you current on how the industry dynamics are impacting the part of their business where your products are relevant.
They’ll also educate you on parts of the business that don’t use your products but are somehow impacted by them, adding to your list of benefits.
Those relationships are the key to getting more stories and customer situations you can share with future prospects in similar industries. Again, it’s your knowledge of the buyer’s business that sets you apart as much or more than your products!
Solution Consultants and Differentiation
Here’s the bottom line. The main reason your prospects buy isn’t because they understand you! They buy because they’re convinced you understand them as well as they understand themselves, and far better than your competition.
The product demo is the biggest speed bump in the sales process. As a solution consultant or sales engineer, you have far more influence on the buying decision than you might think.
Be the person (and the company) you’d love to buy from and watch your win rates go north!
If you want to give your pre-sales solution consultants the skills that make them the lynchpin to differentiation, contact us about a hands-on personalized demo workshop. You’ll know exactly what good demos look like for you because we’ll create them together in the classroom.
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by John Mansour on January 8, 2024.