There is a maxim that many, including sales people, live by called ‘KISS’; this stands for ‘keep it simple, stupid’ and refers of course not to the customer, but to the sales pitch.
The principle (following its own advice and being simple enough to grasp) was that you should not over-complicate a sales story for a customer because, in doing so, you would be as likely to lose clarity of message and put them off as blind them by science into buying your product or service.
The term apparently originated not on sales floors, but in the US Navy. It is easy to see why the phrase is popular with sales managers.
You can vary it to ‘keep it short and simple’ or ‘keep it simple and straightforward’.
The message is always the same, don’t overcomplicate matters. That’s not to say that sales people see their customers as simpletons or less knowledgeable. Underestimating a customer is always a route to failure.
Instead, KISS is a call to get to the heart of the matter and not bombard the customer with speeds and feeds; the core principle behind any good “elevator pitch.”
Too much tech
The KISS principle is one that we’ve never been terribly good at in the IT business. It’s perfectly understandable: technology by its very nature is difficult to explain, and there’s a temptation to lead with the fantastic capabilities and performance of one’s product as a way to impress and compete.
With many solutions, sometimes it seems easier to give specifications than explain in simple terms how it makes one’s working or home life better.
Even though we know we should be focused on explaining the benefits, we often spend far too much time talking about the technology.
We design solutions that drive technology products, so we do need to talk about them at some point. The customer will want to be reassured that they are good, reliable, proven and state-of-the-art products; that they are getting the very best solutions for their needs.
Rare is the company in this industry that isn’t over-technical at times. It is pretty much unavoidable when your product is the heart of what makes a technological device great.
Our vendor partners, distributors and resellers face exactly the same challenge when they talk to customers about the benefits of AMD products. This is where I think the KISS principle can really help.
By keeping it simple, you can get the key messages across really effectively. Even if you do end up talking about technology some of the time, keeping the message simple and easy to understand, makes a real difference.
This applies to all technologies, not just our own. Taking such an approach has certainly worked for us in talking to channel partners. Speeds and feeds definitely have their place – not least because we need to show we can outperform the rest and work with the best.
But it’s hardly a gripping yarn for our partners to take to customers who are anything other than hardcore tech enthusiasts. Instead, we started to focus on ‘the three Ps’ – price, power (i.e. energy consumption), and performance as a way of highlighting the benefit that our technology delivers – it costs less to buy, provides great battery life and delivers stellar performance – especially graphics power.
You can expand on those points extensively, but these core messages offer a good perspective of the value and benefits on offer and they are easy to remember and communicate. This takes us to the other thing about KISS – it’s not just the story you take to the customer, but how you retain it as a sales person.
Take the three Ps as an example: A rabid gaming enthusiast might care more about the performance than the other two Ps – unless they’re on a budget or like to play on the move. A home user looking for a PC for office tasks and catch-up TV streaming may not want the fastest or most performant, but they’ll definitely be interested in achieving the same results with less outlay.
Distilling the advantages of your product to a simple message, a story of the benefits you offer to the end consumer (and that’s why you should be doing what you do), allows you to use KISS to tell a simple, consistent story.
It has worked brilliantly for us. We have had a hugely positive response and that has translated into a greater mindshare and increased excitement over our products.
It may not always be possible to avoid talking about technology, but keeping messages simple works. It is an effective principle that we should always apply when we are trying to sell even the most complex of solutions.
James Blackman is Manager Commercial Channel Sales EMEA at AMD
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