Strong Opinions @marksbirch

Random thoughts from a NYC entrepreneur and investor about start-ups, technology and the people that make it all happen. Also find time for good tunes and good food.
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"We already have that" is never a real objection.

When describing your product with prospects, do you ever get the response that they have something that does what you do already? That is probably because in order to get anyone to listen to your pitch, you have to couch your solution’s value proposition in terms that others would understand. This is especially true when it comes to B2B enterprise solutions where it pays to be more conservative.

This is a double-edged sword. On the one hand coming off as too novel and innovative scares potential customers. On the other hand, going in by aligning to something tried and true could obscure how you are different and unique (and thus a much more effective a solution) from existing solutions.

The best strategy is to at least get in the door and then cut and juke your way through. Plenty of the customers I spoke to last week already had some sort of CRM product or sales & marketing pitch tools for their field teams. They even said as much when I opened with my initial pitch. There were two things that I had ready to evade the objections. First, I had a message that was just enough different to peek interest (mobile CRM built for the medical device industry and highly customizable include their branding and workflow. Second, I had a demo to immediately launch into to demonstrate the product and visually reinforce the message. The demo is what sealed it for folks and turned an objection into an invitation.

This strategy may not work for you based on the type of solution you are pitching. The principle behind it however is sound. Your intro should be just enough different to offer the opening, and then being able to offer (better to show) proof points as to why it is better from the customer’s perspective. In addition, the faster you can get the point across, the better your chances. Once you get past three minutes, you lose people’s interest. Go on for over ten minutes and you will never recover.

The worst thing you can do when getting the “we already have that” objection is to walk away. Chances are they do not understand what you are offering and they do not fully comprehend the challenges they have today compared to how much better things could be. If they truly do have something that works well for them today, then no harm no foul, but at least you know definitively. Remember, there is always the opportunity to turn a “no” into a “yes” if you dig a little deeper.

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