Customers don’t buy products or services.
Customers buy a solution to a particular problem they have, in order to achieve a desired outcome. They only care about the problem they have at that time. Their reason for buying is simply to make that problem go away.
Customers don’t care about you, or your company. Unless of course you’re an organization with more brand equity than you know what to do with – like Apple, or Nike, or Coca-Cola. But not only are you not like those brands, but (sorry to be the bringer of bad news) you never will be. The sooner you stop being under that illusion, the better the chance your marketing will bring a return.
Understanding The Customer Value Gap
The challenge is to understand the gap between where your customer is at the moment, and where they plan to be after their purchase.
Why are they looking to buy?
What’s their motive?
What’s their reward for buying? What’s the consequence for not buying?
Sell The Problem – Not The Product
No-one in their right mind actually wants to buy a vacuum cleaner.
Why would you? They’re noisy, take up space, and cover you with dust when you have to empty them. No-one thinks of them as being an object of desire. Well, most of the time at any rate.
The reason you buy a vacuum cleaner isn’t because you want to buy a vacuum cleaner. The reason you buy a vacuum cleaner is because you don’t want to have a dirty house. The only way to solve the problem (unless you’re wealthy enough to call in a cleaning service every week) is to buy a vacuum cleaner. Use the vacuum cleaner to clean your house and the problem you have (i.e. a dirty house) goes away. Happy days.
The same is true for whatever product or service you care to mention. Even fripperies like designer clothes or jewelry (which are bought to make you – or someone you love – feel better about themselves).
In which case, since customers are looking to buy something to “solve their problem”, it makes a lot more sense to sell them on the problem (which they won’t disagree with) rather than your product/service (which they may).
Providing A Solution To The Customer’s Problem
So instead of selling a vacuum cleaner, you’re actually selling the solution to a dusty house or apartment. You’re not selling insurance. You’re selling peace-of-mind.
Take the time and make the effort to get closer to your customers. Know what makes them tick. Understand what they think they are buying, rather than what you’re selling. What’s their underlying reason for looking at your business value offering?
Frame your product or service in terms of the perceived customer problem. Customers don’t care if your washing machine has a 10,000 rpm spin cycle. They care that their clothes are drier. Features tell, benefits sell.
Only once you can see the world from your customer’s perspective can you properly position, communicate and deliver your product or service. You can then align your company’s sales processes with your customers’ buying processes.
After all, it’s not about what you’re selling. It’s about what they’re buying.