“People buy holes, they don’t buy drills.” A valid quote – and one that’s been spread around enough to put it in the bucket of sales clichés. But what if people aren’t actually buying the hole, and are actually buying what the hole allows. For example, the ability to put a family portrait up on the wall in the dining room, or to put up a new whiteboard to increase creativity in the office. A hole is just a hole, it doesn’t add value, it doesn’t make you reminisce that one summer your family went to Paris, it doesn’t promise increased success in your business, but what the hole makes possible is just those things. The key is to understand which part of your business is the drill, which part is the hole, and which part is what the hole allows your customers to do.
There was a salesman named Jim who had been trying to crack an account for ten years. Every few months he would visit the prospective client, named Tom, who worked in a large bank in New York City. Each visit would cover the latest product features and functions that Jim had to offer and each time Tom would listen politely (he was a very amiable guy). One day Jim decided to try a different approach. When he went to meet with Tom he didn’t even mention the new product features or capabilities. Instead he talked with Tom about his professional goals and family life. It turned out Tom had aspirations to someday start his own investment firm, but needed to save more money to do so. If he wanted to save more money he needed a promotion in his current job. Jim saw an opportunity and proceeded to explain how his product, which is a customer relationship management system, can help Tom keep better track of his clients so he can handle more overall customers and generate more revenue for the business, which will lead to a promotion so he can achieve his dream of starting a firm. After ten years Tom cracked and pulled the trigger on the purchase. Tom finally understood what the product would do for him, and he couldn’t resist.
In this case, the drill was the product, the hole was what the product could do, and the benefit for Tom was that the product would get him a promotion so he could start his own firm, which was what he really wanted. Jim tried for ten years to sell the hole, and how awesome it was, but what he really needed to sell was what the hole would allow Tom to achieve. As soon as he figured that out the sale was made.
Every product has features, those features provide benefits, and those benefits allows the product users to achieve more. Skip ahead to the achievements to create kill propositions.