Sell What Your Product Can Do, Not What It Is

A couple of days ago, I watched this session with Des Traynor, a cofounder of Intercom. He gives lots of startup advice, and I warmly recommend you to watch it or give it a listen. One of the many helpful things he says, stuck in my head:

Sell what it can do, not what it is

It’s a common issue in startups, driven by technical and product-oriented founders. They usually start pitching the product, spending tons of effort describing its features in detail. Instead, what the customer cares about, are the problems that the product is going to help her solve. Pitching a product by listing its features is hardly ever going to resonate in her mind.

Typical use cases involve product features used in combination. In simpler words, a product is more than the sum of its features:

How product-oriented founders see a product, vs. how customers see it.

Sounds simple and makes total sense, right? Yet, looking back at all the projects I’ve made and worked on, I admit that I have spent way too much time over-focusing on their features. It’s a no-brainer then that some of those projects faded away or pivoted. Not because they were inferior in any product sense, but because I couldn’t explain what they do, the way the customers expected.

Think about it, the next time you pitch your products to customers.