Years ago , when I founded Brilliant Image, a computer presentation graphics company, I trained my sales people to understand our mission: to help our customers (who make presentations to win over the audience) become heros. It was a key part of our culture for 15 years, till we sold the company. In Conversations that Win the Complex Sale, Erik Peterson and Tim Riesterer, identify the same approach in sales by noting the need to “keep the customer the hero of the story”.
Their concern is about the language we use. All too often a salesperson shows up, analyzes the situation proposes a solution, and then the customer adopts it and is a success. The issue is whether “I/we” found the solution (meaning the salesperson is a hero) or the customer found the solution. Smart salespeople keep the buyer focused on their ability to execute great solutions so they can feel like heroes.
Great sales presentations focus on the customer and make him/her the hero directly. Good people in the company are trapped by a system or process in a world that changed and now isn’t meeting the needs of its people, and the customer is looking for a solution, found it and adopts it. By saying “I/we are introducing this new element to you”, you’re stealing some of the thunder and that diminishes their role as the hero solving the problem.
For instance, a sales person would say “Since the world changed (e.g., entry of a new competitor, new regulations, new technology, etc. that interfere with the system that was working well), changes are needed. You need a new system that takes into account these changes. Companies come to us for the ways to succeed in the new environment, and when they do they’re able to identify the competitive advantage they need.”
As they note, you’ll still get the credit for helping them, but now they do so as a generous hero, rather than an obliging customer.
How do you help focus the customer on being the hero? Share your approach with us!