What you sell and what your clients buy may be two very different things. We think we sell products and services. What our clients really buy is outcomes.

Theodore Levitt, the father of modern marketing put it brilliantly: “People don’t buy drill bits, they buy holes.”

Your prospects don’t want to buy products, they want outcomes. For example, business owners don’t buy color printers, they buy color printouts. If you boil that down even further, they don’t really buy color prints. If they are printing invoices, what they are buying is the ability to collect money faster from their customers. If they are printing marketing material, what they are buying is competitive advantage and business growth. 

One company can send out sales reps to sell color printers to people that don’t want one or have the budget allocated. The next company, realizing that people buy outcomes, can send their sales team out to help prospects streamline their collections process or grow their revenue. How do you achieve these outcomes? With color printers, of course!

By selling products, the first company will only get attention with the small percentage of the market that is “in the market” for a color printer. By selling outcomes, the second company will be able to get attention with the large percentage of the market that wants a streamlined collection process or to grow their business.

To fuel your revenue growth engine, you need to present a clear message that resonates with your prospects and clients. How do you do this? Focus on outcomes!

Start Your Message With “Why”

Simon Sinek captured the business world’s attention when he delivered his famous TED Talk, Start With Why. This sparked a revolution of people realizing that it’s not “what you do” or “how you do it” that captures people’s attention. It’s “why you do it” that matters.

In our pursuit of a clear message to your clients, I like think about it this way:

  • Product = What You Do
  • Service = How You Do It
  • Why = The Outcomes You Deliver

Every day you have to answer the question, “Why should a prospect give me a shred of attention in their hyper-busy, over-messaged day?” Your answer should be clear: “You should give me some attention because of the outcomes I can deliver.”

What do you sell? Repeat after me, “We sell outcomes!”

  • Put this phrase on your computer: “We sell outcomes!”
  • Tape it to your dashboard.
  • Tattoo “We sell outcomes” on the back of your hand.
  • Put a banner up in your sales bullpen.
  • Hire an airplane to drag a “We sell outcomes” banner in the sky in front of your office every morning.

Next, listen to what you say. When you talk to a prospect, are you talking about products you sell or outcomes you deliver? When you read your marketing material, does it start with outcomes or lead with product?

*This article originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse on May 28, 2019.