Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Product Managers: Make an emotional connection to your buyers

One of my long time favorite situations goes back to when I was a product manager. The mini-computer company already had a proprietary ring network that was decent, and sales knew how to sell this solution. Since I had the amazing new Ethernet solution, which included software support in the OS, a LAN controller in the system, and a terminal server for direct-to-network attached terminals. I gave presentations in the executive briefing center to large customers nearly every day.

Most customers were senior executives, CIOs and MIS directors who were decision makers and who did not usually physically handle equipment. I decided to create a bond between the customers and the new solution, so carried with me to each briefing a terminal server, transceiver and cable, and a controller with me. As I presented the solution and its value proposition, I passed the physical devices around the room, which was a “U-shaped” seating arrangement. For some human factor reason, the bond was created and at the end there was always further discussion and questions of intrigue.  We all know how Ethernet emerged some 25 years later!

                          (Photo: Hubspot) Make an Emotional Connection

Now, my favorite part – we were always asked to bid the new Ethernet solution as well as the proprietary ring solution, which was cheaper but did not have the network based terminal support which was a huge feature – the network based terminals. (I am sure many of you have never had this issue, but in the old days, remote logins required you to anonymously login through many “hosts” on the ring. If a system on the ring was down, you may not reach your destination system until it came back online even if it was just a pass through machine). I made lunch or dinner bets with the sales teams, that Ethernet would win the bid, regardless of a 20-30% higher cost and the potentials of the unknown.  I never lost once Ethernet was launched. I also never collected all my winnings because there were not enough days available to collect!

Over my professional career, I learned that creating the emotional connection and bond between buyer and the equipment or the solution being proposed and sold, could overcome many objections and obstacles. This translates today, to web-based demos/freemium types of software that allows an emotional connection to be made and the buyer can see themselves using or implementing the solution.

I was able to develop a sales guide for the Ethernet solution that achieved an excellence award from the Sales executives and my highest cash award prior to my executive days! I thrived on having the ability to help develop sales presentations and tools with emotional connections for sales and channel personnel.  I have educated my teams over the years to leverage these early career experiences. I have also always attempted to define and include “sexy” user interface or demo software package to make it easy for customers to connect with and understand the solution. The customers need to see themselves as users of the solution within their business.

What have you done and or seen to make this type of emotional connection to close the business?

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