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We’re told to sell the sizzle, not the sausage. That kind of advice tends to grate on us tech folk, because we already find the whole idea of selling a little bit uncomfortable. Selling the sizzle seems to justify our scepticism.

But we do need to sell, and so what do we do?

We list deliverables. Here’s what you get. Here’s how much time we’re going to spend on it. Just the facts, ma’am.

The problem with this approach is that we’re leaving the poor customer to translate what we’re offering them (the “stuff” we do) into what difference it’s going to make for them.

We can see how our analytics work or tweaking of their security is going to rock their world. But they may not.

So, what happens?

Unfortunately, we jump into technical details. Because that’s what we’re good at, right? We dive straight into fix-it mode, and explain how our expertise is going to apply to fix their mess.

But what if, instead of doing that, we could translate our list of deliverables into language they can relate to. What if we could save them working out what it all means for them and their business?

You can do that with just two words. (OK. Strictly speaking, it’s something that begins with just two words, and you’ll need to fill in the blanks. See how I sold you the sizzle first?)

So, what are the two words? I thought you’d ask.

“So that … “

All you do is this: after you list the deliverable, you add “so that … “, and then you explain what difference it will make for them.

In other words, you’re selling the outcome; not the technical magic that is going to bring that about.

So, are you ready to try it?

OK. Let’s start with the deliverable. What you do.

“Real-time sales reports by location”

“We’ll build some network redundancy.”

“We’ll do digital marketing for your mobile app.”

We’ll create a real-time report of sales by location so that you’re not spending Tuesdays buried in Excel.

We’ll create a redundant network, so that if that main link dies again, you won’t have hundreds of staff sitting around.

We’re going to build the market as you build the app, so that when you launch, your app doesn’t get buried in the App store.

Why this works

The secret here is that you’re doing the translation for your buyer. The more human and relatable you make the part after the “so that”, the easier you’ll make it for them to buy.

People are much less interested in your technical expertise than they are in what it means for them. In fact, I know someone who turned his entire business around just by starting to use the words: “what that means for you is …”

By doing that homework for your client, you’re saving them from having to work out how your magic is going to benefit their business.

The easier you can make it for clients to make a decision, the easier it is for them to buy your services. If you’re selling to a business where someone within the business has to “sell” the offer to someone internally, you’re making it easier for them to do that.

Trying this out

Next time you’re making a non-trivial purchase yourself, work out how it is sold to you. What is it that you’re buying? What difference will it make in your world? What’s the “so that …”?

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