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By Maria Trizna April 20, 2018

Are your SMEs and technical sales people making these mistakes?

Technical business leaders and subject matter experts (SMEs) struggle to tell their company and product story. That’s because they have the “Curse of Knowledge”, a common phenomenon that happens when people who’ve been exposed to their product for a long time can’t imagine what it’s like to not know or understand their technology product. This leads to conversations that miss the mark or bore important decision-makers. The good news is that if your SMEs are experiencing "Curse of Knowledge" symptoms discussed below, you can give your fix it by providing the proper training and tools to help them have more relevant conversations. 

 Common SME Sales Messaging Mistakes 

Burdening the Conversation with Jargon 

SMEs often resort to jargon, words and expressions specific to their industry or product, to simplify otherwise technical messaging. However, overuse of jargon presents three challenges:

  1. All your competitors are likely using the same jargon, which means your SMEs are failing to differentiate your product and company. Your company ends up sounding like all the rest and drowns out in the noise.
  2. Unnecessary jargon can clutter the conversation by focusing on features and terminology instead of the real product value to the end user. Meaningful conversations start when you explain how you improve the other person’s life, not when you use the latest lingo.
  3. For sales engagements that involve multiple, and often less technical, decision-makers, jargon can be confusing and bothersome. These people may not understand the terminology being used, which makes them feel uninformed and clouds your value.

Explaining Your Revolutionary Product Features

While new features can be quite impressive and generate excitement among SMEs, they often focus too much time on feature selling by trying to differentiate their product with these features alone. 

The truth is, your features mean nothing to the people outside your office. And even if an SME is speaking to a technical business leader who understands the “wow” factor of a new feature, if they can’t tie it to their listener’s individual interests, enthusiasm will wane quickly. For better results, SMEs need to understand and employ value selling, which ties a product to prospect needs. 

Not Understanding Your Audience

SMEs are smart and knowledgeable people known for their in-depth explanations of technical concepts. Unfortunately, SMEs can be overly thorough. SMEs brought onto a sales call to answer questions and provide expertise tend to go into the weeds with their explanations—probably boring the person on the other end and wasting their time. SMEs answers should be simple and to the point, so that decision-makers get the relevant information they need upfront, rather than having to extract it from a convoluted explanation.  

 

Improving Technical Sales Messaging

A unified approach to messaging helps everyone involved in the sales cycle get on the same page and communicate a consistent and effective message—at the right time to the right people. When developing a sales communication playbook, keep the following things in mind:

  • Keep it simple. Go through several rounds of edits to strip down the jargon from your messaging.
  • Find an interesting narrative. Use previous success stories to help your prospect imagine their current state and where they could be. Make sure your stories are emotional and not transactional recollections.
  • Make the information digestible. To make sure your SMEs are being respectful of your prospect’s time, create clear and succinct answers to common questions your prospect may ask and situations they may be in.
  • Make it relevant. The messaging should be tailored to different buyer personas, so your SMEs are speaking to what’s important to these people in the language that makes sense to them. Take it one step further by segmenting your messaging to the challenges experienced in different industries.

Even if your SMEs are not directly involved in sales and are only brought on to answer questions, they should still be trained to reinforce the product’s value and keep the experience consistent.

At Sales Result, Inc. we’ve worked with many high-tech companies to help their SMEs tell better stories, improve their articulation, and add additional layers of value to the sales engagement. Learn more about our sales playbooks, or schedule a complimentary 30-min consultation, to get a fresh perspective on how to resolve your biggest sales challenges.

Topics: Sales Management, Sales Success

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