As an experienced sales trainer in Singapore, I am often astounded by the fact that many business owners still do not realise that customers buy solutions and not products.
In a recent consultation with a small business owner (SMB), the owner was lamenting the fact that his graphic design business is suffering badly as many of his former customers are outsourcing internationally. He said that he simply cannot compete because of Singapore's high rents and employee costs.
I told him that I empathized with him, but said that in life, you cannot change the wind, but you can adjust your sails. I then asked what he thought his customers wanted.
After much prodding he acknowledged that his customers did not care so much about design as this was just a means to an end. What the customer wanted was a way to communicate their message. How and in what form, was not as important as getting a compelling message across.
With this new understanding, I then asked if, instead of competing with lower (and possibly lower quality design work) prices in India, could he not leverage on it by fronting the projects, giving the strategic directions and letting others do the "manual" work?
The moral of the story is this. All businesses sell solutions. Unfortunately, business owners tend to fall in love with their product and fail to realise that the solution they are offering may no longer be what the client needs.
Thus, as a sales trainer, I always remind clients not to talk to potential clients about your product features. Instead they should talk about how their product can help their client solve a problem. In other words, focus on the benefits.