If you sell to—or at least have selling conversations with—higher education IT professionals, chances are you attended the EDUCAUSE annual conference in Indianapolis last week. I certainly enjoyed seeing old friends and making new acquaintances at EDUCAUSE, and appreciated having the opportunity to attend a number of informative sessions.
Making my way through the cavernous maze that is the EDUCAUSE exhibition hall is my favorite part. Besides taking in the shamelessly huge and intricate displays, I love listening to the vendors engage in the selling conversation with attendees. This year, I was insanely curious to hear how suppliers responded when an inquisitive passerby asked, “So, what do you guys do?”
Oftentimes—after some fumbling and stumbling—vendors gave the stock catalog answer. “BRAND X is a next-generation SaaS-based authoring solution for higher education IT administrators that allows for high-quality adaptive and interactive learning content to be displayed on blah-blah-blah and blah-blah-blah-blah-blah.” One can understand how a prospective adopter would become numb after hearing this jargon over and over. But believe it or not, this pedestrian way of starting the conversation is a best-case scenario. What’s worse is when a company suffers from an identity crisis: “Who are we? What’s our story?” In this case, sellers struggle mightily to give a clear response, and the whole selling conversation feels stilted.
Here’s a better way. When someone asks, “what do you guys do” at a conference, I suggest you consider responding in kind with C.A.S.H.
C: Acknowledge a key Challenge you see in the market. For example, “New online content is great, but we are seeing real frustration in getting it to work seamlessly with all the learning platforms on the market today.”
A: Cast a net over the people Affected. “Higher education IT admins, instructors, school leadership… this issue has direct and indirect impact on a whole host of people on campus. Not to mention your learners!”
S: State that you are in business to Solve the issue. “We Solve for this problem by giving our clients a way to maintain content fidelity regardless of the platform they use.”
H: Enable the prospect to self-identify by asking How they deal with the challenge. “What is your role on campus? How do you deal with this issue?”
C.A.S.H. works. It helps your prospect think situationally, and that’s where you want them to be. Otherwise, they have to work to make the connection. In a selling conversation, why not do the work for them?
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