Are You Making Your Prospect Drink from a Hose?

Don’t overwhelm with details. Concise messages are clearer messages.

By Julie Hansen

If you ever drank from a hose as a kid, then you have a good idea what it feels like to be on the receiving end of many presentations or demos.

Overwhelming prospects with a steady stream of information happens more often than it should. Here are some of the excuses I hear for providing such overload:

  • “My product (or service) is very complex.”
  • “I don’t have as much time as I need.”
  • “The buyer wants to know how it works.”
  • “I’ve only got one shot.”

If your goal is to show anything and everything that might possibly be of interest to your prospect, then go right ahead! However, by overwhelming your customer with details you will sacrifice a much greater goal. Clarity and relevance!

While it may seem like a smart move to cover all your bases, throwing too much at a potential buyer actually weakens your message. Even a short diversion from focus can confuse the issue and cause your prospect to tune out during an otherwise stellar presentation.

More is not necessarily better in sales. You end up making the person you’re selling to do the work of picking out and remembering the most relevant pieces.

So how do you tighten your focus to just those features, capabilities, or processes that are relevant or contribute toward building the strongest case for your product or service? There are five things that certainly help. Do the following and your message will be much more clear to those hearing it.

1. Hone in on difference-makers.

Stick to those features that are only the most relevant to this prospect in their current business—not someday, not potentially—but now!

Test every feature by putting yourself in your customer’s shoes and asking yourself, “Why does this feature matter to me now?” If you can’t come up with a strong answer, let it go.

Hone in on a few key features that help your prospect understand how your overall solution addresses the challenges they’re facing today. That makes a much stronger case than racing through a dozen potentially important features in a blur.

2. Keep it high-level.

Unless this is a deep dive into the specific capabilities of  your product, avoid getting lost in how a feature or a process works.

After all, the goal of a sales call, presentation, or a demo is not to train someone interested in buying how to use your product. It’s to give them just enough information so they want to see more, ask questions, do a trial, or sign a contract.

You’re aiming to show how your product will help someone achieve their goals. Don’t bother explaining all those minute details about steps and processes that don’t further an understanding of how your product helps meet their needs.

3. Connect it to your prospect’s world.

A long list of features is meaningless to most sales prospects. Bring your feature to life by giving it context.

What specific challenge does this feature resolve for your buyer? How are they currently handling this challenge? Perhaps they’re spending a lot of money on maintenance or upkeep. What is the impact? Can you quantify it in terms of dollars?

By connecting the dots between your product’s capabilities and how, when, and why your prospect would use it, you paint a much more vivid picture. And that helps your potential buyer envision using your solution.

4. Focus on value.

Ultimately not one thing you’ve shown will matter if the prospect doesn’t see the value in it for themselves. Many salespeople assume the benefit of a certain feature is obvious to a buyer and don’t call it out. They assume a prospect already knows it’s going to be more efficient and will save them costs in the long run. But this kind of assumption is dangerous.

First, the value is not nearly as obvious to your customer as you might think it is. Second, it’s likely even if they know the value, it’s not the first thing that comes to mind.

Play it safe and make it a habit to always deliver value with any feature you discuss.

By connecting the dots between your product’s capabilities and how, when, and why your prospect would use it, you paint a much more vivid picture.

5. Make it visual.

Most people are visual learners, so using a visual aid can increase recall of your message much more vividly.

For those features or capabilities you really want to highlight, consider using some type of visual
aid—a whiteboard, a tablet, a flipchart. Have something that will shine a light on your product’s impact or value.

More isn’t always better in sales. Keep that in mind. Show just enough features to intrigue your prospect and make your point—without drowning them with a firehose of information.

Julie Hansen is a professional sales trainer, speaker, and author. She
authored the book ACT Like a Sales Pro in 2011 and has been featured in
Selling Power, Entrepreneur, and Sales and Service Excellence magazines.
She can be reached at and

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