What the heck are you selling?

I’ve been fortunate enough to see a lot of different businesses from the inside. In all businesses, it comes down to the sales. Unfortunately, I’ve never been in a business where the product or the service is so great that you don’t need to do any selling or marketing. Everybody would like to have more sales, but why is it so difficult?

“Understanding your customer” is not an empty phrase

The most common mistake is that the people working in sales have been around the project and services so long that they have more of the background of a consultant than a salesperson. If you use a consultant to do the sales she has a very different angle on the problems the customer is struggling with than a salesperson would.


As I start with a new company I usually look at the website, talk with the people, and want them to explain the processes to me and do the sales speech for me. I want to see that the website and public image (if they have one) are corresponding to the sales speech. However, very often the website doesn’t even say what the company is selling. The website is usually a collection of empty but nice-looking phrases: Our goal is to boost your sales, we build successful companies, growing your business globally. These phrases sound very good, but they all can cover a huge field of services and products. You cannot tell, if the company says on their first page that they want to boost your sales, whether they are doing advertisements or selling a CRM solution.


The second problem with websites is that finding out what the service or the product is takes a lot of time and interest. If 35% of visitors bounce immediately and the rest spend an average of a few minutes on the site, you should really focus on those few minutes. This means that everything must be clear on the first page. Promising to sell the world is not helping the customer when she has a specific problem to solve.

Sales speech must match your website

How about the sales speech then? The most common sales speech focuses on the details of the service or the product. The customer is usually not specialized in the details and therefore it would be best to focus on what the service or the product is solving. The details will follow if the customer is interested in them. To improve your sales speech, you should focus on the most important one or two points that you are solving. These points need to be concrete: With our CRM you can organize your sales pipeline, we will teach your top management to better understand the numbers behind your business. I’m not even sure if these made-up examples are concrete enough, but you get the point that lowering the level of abstractness will help your business to be understood. The points should be so clear that you could explain your business with the same words to your own primary school children.


Sometimes I come across companies that have taught their salespeople to speak in the words of consultants. This leads to an interesting situation where the salesperson doesn’t know what he is talking about and the hit rate drops dramatically. The result is that management concludes that the business is so special that the sales needs to be done by consultants. Wrong. The problem is that the company doesn’t know how to lower themselves to the customer’s level of expertise. It is very rare that anyone is selling a product or services where the customer is an expert on the actual solution of the problem. The customer wants to have a solution and is not interested in the process of how it is happening. The customer is interested in the result.


So, back to the website. Please make your website very clear on what you are selling. This is the first thing on your webpage. All the other pages may go into detail and into the reasons your product or service beats the competition. If you can do this then I would estimate that you’ve already beaten half of your competitors.


Did you read this through? You’re awesome, I thank you. If you wish to send me feedback, please email me.


Tuomo Saarni