Sales Strategies: Now You’re Talking

UPDATED: February 8, 2011
PUBLISHED: February 8, 2011

If you want to call on and sell to VITO—the Very Important Top Officer, the person with the ultimate veto power and the approver of every sale in a buying organization—you must come to terms with the fact that VITO speaks another language. And if you don’t speak this
language, you can’t hang with him. In fact, if you expect to have any kind of meaningful interaction with VITO, you had better be ready to speak his language: the visionary language of benefi ts.

Unfortunately, most salespeople love to speak the language of product advantages, features and functions, which appeals to the folks who have no buying power. Few salespeople ever learn to speak the language of benefits. But once you learn it, you will have a powerful competitive advantage in the marketplace.

You’re probably wondering, What’s the best way for me to learn to speak the language of benefits so I can start getting appointments with (and selling to) VITO?

There is a concise two-step answer that will put you on the fast track.

Step 1. Avoid “f” words like the plague. You know the words I’m talking about: facts, features, functions and topics that are unfamiliar to people outside your industry. VITO just doesn’t speak these languages. If you use them in any written correspondence, voice mail message or one-onone dialogue, VITO will do one of two things: disengage instantly from your message or transfer you to the person in the organization you sound the most like. VITO is not interested in the details of how the vision is accomplished.

Step 2. Instead, communicate your value through a balanced gain equation. What is a balanced gain equation? It’s a concise, 10-second summary of your hard and soft dollar value. This summary uses both the carrot (those outcomes VITO wants to achieve) and the stick (those outcomes that VITO is eager to avoid). Combining both the carrot and the stick in a single, tightly constructed statement is a must.

A balanced gain equation is very different from the one- dimensional benefit statements most salespeople have been taught. Anyone can promise to increase revenues. Piece of cake! Just pump up the marketing budget by 200 percent and pay bigger commissions to the sales force. VITO doesn’t want to waste time listening to obvious solutions like that. On the other hand, if you want to get VITO’s attention, talk to him about your suspicion or your prediction that his organization can increase revenues while reducing marketing costs. That’s a balanced gain equation, and that stands out.

The most effective balanced gain equations incorporate the element of time as it connects to the balanced gain. This is because VITO lives in a time-critical world. Time is one resource that cannot be replaced. So to complete the balanced gain equation, predict how long it will take to deliver the carrot and stick benefits you’re proposing.

Put it all together, and it should look a whole lot like this: Five other CEOs in your industry trust us to create greater sources of revenues by as much as 3 percent while lowering direct cost by as much as 40 percent within 120 days.

That’s the core message that will give you permission to enter and sell in VITO’s world. Create, refine and practice delivering and discussing your own balanced gain equation, and you’ll be well on your way to boosting the amount of every sale you make.