In most early stage SAAS companies that I have worked with, the product owner or product manager accompanied me as the presales and solution consultant. I learned a lot from them, not just from their product knowledge but also from their instinctive sales skills. So secret to my sales success was that I mimicked the product guys in sales meetings.
This experience compels me to say today that the product guys are preferred by the buyers over sales guys. I see that there are 3 specific reasons for this:
The product guys I worked with demonstrated the highest levels of patience when the customer was elaborating their problem statement. I see that better they listened to the customers, more accurate questions the product guys would ask. And this helped later for sales to get accurate solution approach, timelines, and a happier prospect. In certain meetings, I felt the customer was not even looking for a solution, she was looking for someone to only hear out her problem statement and she discovered that she herself had a solution to it.
I see that in an anxiety to change the deal status in the CRM after every meeting, the sales guys tend to miss out on this important factor that product guys demonstrate.
Solution Approach Vs Pushing the sale
The product guys in sales meetings tend to become the doctor for the business problem of the customer. They quickly slide into the role of solution designer and the discussion is more about which solution works the best for the customer. The solution oriented discussion is generally already in the Yes zone for the customer, making it easier to sail through the sale. Solution approaches have helped customers to build confidence in our capability and take a leap of faith. In fact people buy things because of people. And I believe the solution oriented discussion helped buyers to seed an emotional decision to go with the product guy in the room way before the deal was inked.
Product guys generally wouldn’t B***S*** around. May be because they know what goes on in the discussion with the clients, lands on their plate next day to be delivered. Or maybe because they are not through a cunning sales training session. Anyways, it works in favor of the discussion. The straightforward discussion makes the entire conversation more meaningful. In my observation, the buyers who are clear on their buying objectives and intent are also candid in their conversation with the sellers. So when two parties speak without layers, it becomes a highly productive sales call. I have seen product guys don’t hesitate a bit before saying that they can’t do certain things, or admit that they have missed out on something in the product. This candid response helps the buyers to see through the seller organization transparently, building higher confidence. Buyers are willing to give chance to someone who comes out clean, but unfortunately most sales guys don’t want to do that due to a fear of failure to close the deal.
My biggest learning has been that these three aspects make a product guy more amicable to talk to for buyers than the sales guy in the room. So it is better to be a product guy than the sales guy in the room with a prospect to make a sale. For those who understand that life is longer than a deal, transaction or a sale, believe in building a better human connections, one meeting at a time.
Share your experiences and learning in the comments below.