How To Destroy A Sale With One Word

I Nearly Walked Out On This Salesman…

Do you hate shopping for big ticket items? I love it. I always walk away with a sales or persuasion lesson.

Here’s what happened.

We’re nearing the end of winter. I figured I could get a good deal on a heated mat for my walkway. The size I’m looking at costs a few hundred dollars.

First, I zip through a bit of online research. Next, I drive down to the home improvement store. I need to see it with my own eyes.

A salesman approaches me. I give him clear instructions on what I want.

“What’s the best deal you can give me on a 20x5 heated mat? I’m looking for the best value.”

Mass Confusion

He quotes me the price. I can feel the anger swell inside me.

“This is the best value? I can get 20% more coverage for $50 less.”

Another salesman trying to swindle me? How quaint.

Before I walk away he gets frantic. He senses I’m unhappy with him. He went on to explain that he meant it had the most durable materials for the lowest cost.

Now it all makes sense.

The Curse Of The “Value” Benefit

We each had our own definition of the word value. Value is an example of a fluffy benefit.

It lack concrete meaning. Each person assigns their own meaning to value and other fluffy benefits like it.

That’s a bit of mouthful to understand. Let’s break it down to real world examples. In the exchange I laid out earlier, the salesman sold me on value. Value is an abstract concept.

I defined value as most coverage for lowest price.

The salesman defined it as best materials for lowest price.

You may describe it as most energy efficient for lowest price.

See the problem?

In my corporate job we once sold software with the benefit of risk reduction. That’s even more of a fluffy benefit. Good luck trying to find two people who agree on that definition.

The Concrete Alternative

When you talk about benefits in sales or marketing, break down your abstract benefit into concrete terms. Specificity, vividness and precision make your benefits concrete.

Value exists only as an idea. We all assign our own specific meaning to it. As the communicator, it’s your job to add specifics and vivid imagery and transform it into something concrete. There should be zero chance of confusion.

Here’s some common fluffy benefit’s and their concrete alternatives

Fluffery Benefit: We offer the best value.

Concrete Benefit: Most coverage for lowest price.

Fluffery Benefit: We offer the best value.

Concrete Benefit: We combine the most coverage and best materials for lowest price.

Fluffery Benefit: Our software reduces your risk.

Concrete Benefit: Our software prevents you from losing your money due to market swings.

Get On The Same Page

Try this simple assignment:

Go back and pull some sales and marketing material. Locate any fluffy benefits. Next, replace them with their concrete equivalents. Here’s a sample list of the common offenders:

  1. Best value
  2. Risk reduction
  3. More successful

You may find that even within your team you disagree on the concrete meaning. If that’s the case this exercise will also help your team get on the same page.