Blog

Don’t sell features and benefits: sell expertise and results

Jul 22, 2016

Expertise Chalkboard

When you are an expert (as many of you accountants are), it’s not your services or products that your prospects are buying. It’s not even the famous “features and benefits” that they buy.

They aren’t actually buying your expertise, either (although this is what you need to sell).  You can’t buy someone’s expertise: it belongs to you, and you use it to deliver results.

The results you deliver – and the ultimate purchase your buyers are making – are  things like:

Confidence.

Inspiration.

Time.

Success.

Once you deliver on what was originally agreed, they get things like “a dream achieved” and all that malarkey, but I say those first four are the things that your buyer is wondering about before they get in touch.

The best marketing shows how you the expert will deliver on those things.

Not a two-column list of features and benefits, which has no emotion or enthusiasm, but your process of delivery that will inspire them to want to engage with you.

Understand how your prospective buyer feels

Within the past week, I had a conversation with three separate experts (Jonathan Fox of Flying Fox IT, Gareth Everson, and Bermans).

I got to thinking about how a conversation with a true expert is so different from a call with any other supplier – and how critical this is to integrate it into your marketing, and know your own worth.

In all of these conversations, I went to the person to discuss what was initially a very small issue, but expanded the more I looked at it.

And rather than feeling overwhelmed or frustrated with this expansion, I actually felt inspired and enthused – because it came with the confidence that what I needed would actually get done.

First, here’s how I felt after talking to (or initially working with) these experts:

Confident.

I feel confident – things are going to happen, at long last.  When I asked a question, they explained how they would go about finding the answer.  Interestingly few of the questions asked were fully answered in the initial conversation – because they required a little more work.  The conversation also reminded me of what I’m good at, too.

Positive.

Your buyer is coming to you with a frustration. A difficulty. Pain points.  These are not merely words on a page, but real challenges in their personal or business life that need to be solved – and chances are they’re feeling a bit down or discouraged about it.  If you the expert are confident that you can help them, encourage them by talking about how it will be when this problem is solved.  Jonathan said, “So ideally the system will look like….no, let’s not say that.  Let’s say when this is done, your system will look like this.”

Inspired.

After my conversation with each of these experts, I was instantly inspired to go do more work on the item we were discussing.  I was beginning to release some of the work to their shoulders, and so I was enthusiastic about putting my efforts into what only I can do.

Clear about the next steps.

Jonathan promised a plan of action to be sent next week. Gareth and I put a half day action session in the diary.  Bermans promised heads of terms to be emailed early next week.  The next steps were clear, specific, and with a deadline.

Listened to.

The 80-20 rule applies in the first meeting with an expert.  You talk 80% of the time, and they talk 20% of the time.  Most of their 20% is in the form of questions – good, insightful questions that make you think of things you hadn’t thought of before.

Incorporate these feelings into your marketing

 Think of these the next time you’re working on marketing materials for your landing page, new service, brochure, leaflet, video, online course, event, or just for the firm in general.

How will your prospective buyer feel? What will they gain – even from a first half hour call with you?

The days of the “free 30 minute consultation” are over.  Now we’re in a time of discovery calls, exploration meetings, action sessions, and starting points.  Explain what you’re really doing – and then do it.

Expertise really sells itself.  So there’s no need for features and benefits.

To prove your expertise, think about what your prospect is feeling before they come to work with you, and after you’ve completed the project.

Selling confidence, inspiration, time, and success

So, if it’s not features-and-benefits time, how do you actually sell these vague concepts of confidence and success?  How do you get this across before the prospect even knows you exist?

Here are a few ways:

1. Establish likeability via social media

With some of these experts, we had many small conversations on social media around things that some would argue don’t really ‘matter’ too much.  Burgers. Beer. Weather. House moves. Just life stuff. But it meant I was more confident that this would be my sort of person – not just an expert in their field.

The more you and your team are involved personally on social media, the more likeable connections you make – and the more you are building your funnel.

2. Engage prospects by commenting on your areas of expertise

Again with social media.  If there’s a post about your area of expertise – auto enrolment, Xero training, bookkeeping, R&D tax credits – share it. Comment on it.  Engage in conversation with those who are talking about it.

That way, when a prospect suddenly has an issue in one of those areas (auto enrolment, Xero training, bookkeeping, R&D tax credits), you come to mind.  Perhaps you’ll even be in the midst of a conversation when they suddenly say, “Hey, could you help me with…?”

3. Be a connector to build trust

I absolutely love connecting people.  It’s something I do as naturally as breathing, and I take it seriously. I would never recommend someone or something that I didn’t think would genuinely help (unless with the disclosure that it’s new or untested).  And I never recommend someone I don’t like, or whose integrity is in question.

When you focus on connecting people, it builds trust – so even if the prospective buyer chooses not to work with you this time, they’ll know they can rely on you (and your expertise) the next time round.

Bermans was recommended to me by my accountants (whom I trust implicitly).  In that sense there was really no question, and no need to get quotes or scour the interwebs for options.  But it wasn’t just the recommendation – it was that, combined with their expertise, the right questions, a good conversation, and the feeling of confidence they inspired.

4. Agree to small projects with the ‘right’ people.

There are so many accountants who have done a little work for a small company, a startup, a one-man band, and this person has had connections and contacts which resulted in hundreds of thousands of pounds of business in the long run.

Don’t give away your expert advice to those who will merely take and keep taking, but if you come across someone who is a quality contact of the type you want, give a little extra.  If they’re the right sort of person, chances are their connections are too.

5. Stay in touch.

With every one of these experts – and many others besides – I hear from them regularly.  Whether it’s an email update, or videos, or their social media posts that I see, or even a personal email saying, “How’s it going? Anything we can help with?” – all of these mean that you the expert are in the right place at the right time.

I’m a huge fan of automated follow up.  We use it often at the Profitable Firm, and many of our clients do too.  (Even Mailchimp gives you automated follow up capability.)  But there is nothing that beats the personal reminder – the one that pops into your head when you’re driving down the road, or standing on a train platform.  A quick, personal call or email or DM on Twitter can go a long way (as long as you aren’t breaking any driving laws by doing so!).

All of this proves the ‘drip feed’ and the two-bucket rule concepts, which I’ve mentioned before.

If you want quality leads to find you because you’re an expert, there are a lot of steps in between ‘Hmm, I have a problem’, and ‘Let’s do this.’  And trying to find which of the following steps was more successful than another is just not possible.  You need them all together.

Happy prospecting, expert!

-Karen