In this industry, we sell technology, and technology is based on facts, data, and physics. Many of us are engineers or operations people (not me), and we tend to want to deal in a black-and-white reality; after all, that’s where we live. This is a good thing until it comes to selling our products and services. Then, we have to recalibrate our thinking and consider to whom we are selling.
Whether the products are bare boards, assemblies, box builds, laminates, solder mask, etc., it doesn’t matter how technical our product is, because, in the end, we are selling to people. Business is all about people, and it’s our job to sell in a way that will create a picture in the customers’ minds of what our technical products and services can do not only to meet their needs but also achieve their goals.
When all is said and done, our advertising, stories, and content have to be aimed at how our products help our customers to achieve their goals. Because no matter how technical the market environment is, or how high-tech our products are, before a sale is made, it will be people who choose to buy from the companies that they feel will make them and their business successful.
This means that whatever message you choose to share needs to be humanized. Your story has to come to life in order to be appealing to the people (the key word being “people”) who will decide whether to buy and use your products and services—or not.
You may have heard the saying, “You’re not selling drills; you’re selling holes.” Here are six more sayings to ponder.
- You’re not selling cars; you’re selling the image of what that car makes you feel like.
- You’re not selling an iPhone; you’re selling the feeling of being “with it” (and most importantly, the feeling of not being an old fogie).
- You’re not selling shoes; you’re selling her Manolo Blahniks that make her feel like she’s a star on “Sex and the City.”
- You’re not selling a suit; you’re selling the image of success the suit implies.
- You’re not selling thermal laminates; you’re selling a solution for sending missiles from the +125°F desert floor miles into the sky where it’s -55°F in less than three seconds without having the components pop off of the boards in the guidance control system.
- You’re not selling white solder mask; you’re selling solder mask that will make your customers’ LED lighting the best in the business.
You are always selling a means to an end; no one really cares about the “means,” but they do care about the “end.” We need to make them realize that the only way to get to that “end” is with the right “means,” which, of course, includes our products and services.
One last example involves Jeeps. I’ve loved Jeeps since I saw Pat Brady’s Jeep named “Nellybelle” on the old Roy Rogers Show on Saturday mornings. My best friend in college also had a Jeep—a real one with no doors, a homemade tin roof, and giant tires. We used to spend hours driving it through the hills, woods, and potato fields of Aroostook County on Northern Maine, getting stuck in the mud and having to use a hand-crank winch to pull us out.
I loved that Jeep so much—and the idea of a Jeep so much—that even today, many years later, I drive a bright red four-door Jeep Wrangler. The model I have has a little round badge on the side with the words “Trail Rated” and the image of a mountain on it. I love that badge! I have bought a total of five Jeep Wranglers in my life, all just because of that badge.
Ironically, I have never been off-road with any of those Jeeps, nor have I taken off the doors (I don’t want to chip the paint!). But my Jeep makes me feel 20-years-old again every time I drive it. And that, my friends, is the point—the way it makes me feel. How do your products and services make your customers feel?
We are all human, and we sell to humans. For your product or service to be successful, you are going to have to make it appealing to the people in charge of buying it. Please put real stories in your advertising, websites, and columns. Your stories should demonstrate to people what your product or service can do for them, where it can take them, and how it will make them feel.
It’s only common sense.
Dan Beaulieu is president of D.B. Management Group.