In my previous post, I discussed how to overcome the common Seller challenge of making intangible benefits more tangible to Buyers. I suggested that the issue was more one of Buyer perception, their point of view or frame of reference, than the Seller’s powers of persuasion.
I learned that lesson early in my career when a wise mentor counseled:
if you’re going to be different, first be the same then be different’.
Since then, hardly a week has passed when I’ve not had occasion to recall that.
Essentially it means that if you are to be understood you need to be ‘relatable’ i.e., have Buyers relate to your point of view or share the relevant ‘frame’ of reference, otherwise they will simply think we’re different i.e., not like them, and thus not relevant either.
And so, for this exercise, our goal should be to have Buyers see their problems/challenges through a frame that renders the benefits of what you’re offering tangible. Those benefits then become relevant to them.
Shifting a Buyer’s Frame
I suggest the way to do that is to help Buyer’s move their view of their challenges/problems from the present (point A), to a future (point B) where those issues have been addressed and no longer exist. When they visualize and, most importantly, can describe what that future looks like, almost to the extent that they can ‘taste’ or ‘touch’ it, it becomes tangible to them. And so to then, does the value of the solution that’s delivering it, which is where you want them to be.
That said, It’s not us that shifts their frame of course, Buyers have to do that for themselves. Our role is to facilitate it. And a good way to that is to treat it like a map-reading exercise.
For example, when you want to navigate to a particular destination, you first find that place on your map and then work back to where you currently are to figure out the best route.
And so the first step with a Buyer is to have them describe their desired future (point B), or destination to use the map metaphor.
You may need to help them do that and the approach there is for you to be curious and ask questions that have the Buyer describing business outcomes they’ll be achieving. That is, the results they will be receiving, not the processes they will be performing.
Focus on Business Outcomes not Processes
That distinction is important, as most people’s first instinct is to describe what they will be doing in the future rather than what they will be getting, which is the perspective you need them to have. Essentially, you want them to describe what value looks like when they’re receiving it. That’s the future frame you need them to have.
The processes or activity required for the Buyer to get those results is the following step and I’ll cover that in my next post. First, you need the Buyer to have a very clear impression of the value that they could be receiving to the extent that it feels tangible to them. The more detail you can have them describe, the better.
That conversation should be entirely in Buyer language. It’s their frame, so stick to their jargon not your product or service language. That’s really important and key to it being a conversation that Buyers will enjoy, as it’s about them not you. And it’s safe ground for you, as you won’t come across as a Seller, but as an Advisor. You can’t help but gain trust points. Help them to really visualize that future!
In my next post, I’ll cover how to have that conversation.
Until then, thank you for reading. And if you have feedback or questions, please comment.