Confucius said, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
Last week a kick-ass young entrepreneur of my acquaintance called me to ask my advice about his integrated AI platform to improve corporate sales and marketing. He had just won a major entrepreneurial contest, had serious investment interest and had a beta-tested technology product. He had an ivy-league degree, was good-looking, full of brio, and genuinely expert about his field. Yet he was having trouble making his sales case.
After making his pitch to me, however, I quickly understood his problem: He didn’t understand simplicity. He was so in love with his product (appropriately so) that he could not keep himself from waxing prolix about it. He was a veritable firehose of knowledge, enthusiasm, and rococo detail. He threw in everything but the kitchen sink. It was overwhelming and hard to practically focus on.
In my friend’s case less would certainly have been more.
Buyers want simplicity. They want direct talk about what they can apply to improve ROI. They are like Jack Webb, who played Sgt. Joe Friday on the old TV show Dragnet. He repeatedly said “All we want are the facts, ma’am.”
Yup. That is what most buyers want. More than half of any initial sales job is articulating a result–not the process, not the whole detailed magilla, and not your complex brilliance. Winnowing down a simple core value can often seem a process of almost insulting oversimplification to someone who has pored their heart and soul and essence into a new product or service. Yet it is only the final result that is the compelling factor in initiating a dialogue leading to a sale.
A buyer is interested in an outcome. (“All we want are the facts, ma’am.”) If the result of a service or product is clear and compelling, the buyer will then be enthused to explore the details about how the sausage is made. Otherwise–not.
(This is one thing President-elect Donald Trump well understood in the recent election. He made simple–perhaps overly simple–claims about results. It worked.)
The minister of my church recently told the following story in his sermon to illustrate a biblical point, the story works fine as a lesson about sales simplicity.
Two ranchers from Texas are bragging to each other about the size of their respective cattle-raising operations. One of them says, “Well, I’ve got 15,000 head of cattle out there on the range, all wearing my ‘Flying A’ brand.”
“Flying A!” the other sniffs. “My brand is the Bar T, Circle L, Cross Creek, Flying Z, Bent Fork, Double Back, North Canyon brand.”
“Wow!” says the first rancher. “How many cattle are you running?
“Well.” the second rancher confesses grudgingly, “Not as many as you have. Most of mine don’t survive the branding.”
Beat novelist Jack Keruoac says in his novel The Dharma Burns, “One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” So with the compelling entrepreneur. Thanks, Jack Keruoac.