13 January 2010

Asking "Why?" - Selling the Value, Not the Cost

My niece is almost four years old now - and our favorite question that peppers our conversations is the word "why."

Georgia @ about 15 months old
She asks me the question of "why" to understand something that is new to her, something that she doesn't understand, or just to reinforce something she has learned.

I ask her the question of "why" to learn more about how she thinks at her age, how she processes things, what motivates her, where her logic is.

For a demand generation person, the question of "Why" is critical to ask your prospects so that you can sell the value of your (solution, asset, service) and not the cost of it.

"Need" is different than "Why" - and yet, most folks don't dive deep enough to move from the former to the latter. Let's take the instance of someone who is seeking a DAM solution (Digital Asset Management).

The "Need" may be initially described to the demand generation folks as "I'm looking for a DAM solution to streamline my company's storage and retrieval of digital content."

But by asking "Why" type of questions, you could determine that the company is really trying to handle a growing amount of content while trying to downsize its staff numbers and the Legal department is concerned that the company is keeping digital content that they no longer own the IP rights on.

If, as a vendor, you were to try to craft a value selling statement to the client with just the first statement of "Need", you could very easily fall into the feature functionality trap that many vendors do in explaining their worth or value to the client.

But with the second statement in hand, a comprehensive value statement could be prepared to address an ROI on human capital loss versus gained productivity (using the solution), what other clients have done in similar situations and savings realized, how specifically the solution offers a records management tag/alert system for digital content that is about to expire, etc.

If the value can be sold in a way that the client believes in, then the cost of it just becomes a number on an invoice.

The KISS Question is "when was the last time that you asked why?"

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