Why you shouldn’t show your capabilities too early

It was 1988 when Neil Rackham dedicated a chapter of his ‘Spin Selling’ book to this topic.

Even if it was almost 3 decades ago and lot of things changed, it’s always good to remind why demonstrate your products’ capabilities too early can kill your sale.

In a complex sale, presenting your capabilities too soon doesn’t lead to any success.

Especially today, when customers have access to most of the information they need, this one way approach is not useful anymore.

Better to say: if it didn’t work 30 years ago, why should it work nowadays?

The problem is that presenting a solution without understanding a need or a situation puts your potential customers in a strange position:

Decide if it will fit their needs or not in an undefined future.

This behaviour leads to several consequences:

  1. You waste your time
  2. You kill the value of your product / service
  3. You are not aligned with your customer.

It’s like you and your customer speak two different languages.

Even if there is a potential interest, you’re killing it with a one way communication that may be perceived as vanity.

Worst of all, there is one long-term consequence that shouldn’t be underestimated:

You will be never aligned to your customer.

The reason is easy: when you deliver a presentation based on what you can do now, you fix your features and benefits in a determined time frame.

You fix them in the ‘Now’.

The first problem is that your ‘Now’ is not your customers’ ‘Now’, if you don’t understand what he needs.

So you’re misaligned in the present.

The second one is that ‘Now’ is perfect for a transactional purchase, but not for a complex sale that aims to establish a long business relationship.

The main purpose of a complex sale is selling ‘Now’ for selling ‘Later’.

So you will be misaligned in the future too.

Your customer will always remember you as the supplier who knows how to do those things, because he did those things for these customers… but unfortunately he didn’t need all these things at that time.

But maybe he will call you when and if he will need.

The problem is that he doesn’t know why to call you.

He doesn’t know what kind of needs you can understand and what kind of problem you can solve because you spoke of everything except of him.

When you don’t understand the actual customers’ needs and try to anticipate the future ones, your presentation is not anchored to a need but to a time frame, to a ‘Now’.

But large customers buy ‘Now’ to anticipate the future.

And if you’re a ‘Now’ supplier, you’ll never be one of his choices.

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