You’ve learned your product inside and out. You’ve aced all of the product training classes. You’ve studied every detail, and you can explain every feature. You’ve written scripts, practiced, and learned from the best in your company. You can present without notes, do perfect live demonstrations, and wow any audience. And your close rate is right with the company’s historical average. But that’s the problem. Average. Who wants to be average, when you can set the bar for great?

I was just like that when I worked at a large computer company. I learned a particular product so well that I could make it do things that even the inventor didn’t know it could do. Then I was sent to an invitation-only class for specialists and we saw a presentation so polished it put us all to shame. We stood and applauded.

That’s when the presenter hit us right between the eyes. “That was an awful presentation!” he said. We were shocked, because it was the best any of us had ever imagined. And then he did it again, and this time the whole world opened up. The first time he demonstrated the product… with not a single word about the customer to whom he was supposedly presenting. The second time he presented HOW the customer would use the product. The whole presentation came alive into a powerful, wonderful, irresistible experience.

Never, ever present a product. Use your product to present what the customer can do with your product. The customer’s business. The customer’s success. The customer’s new happiness. No customer in the world wants a product, box, piece of software, house, car, or suit. She wants to be able to make a sculpture that won’t crumble, play his favorite game on-line with his nemesis – Chuck, interface with their grandchildren, pick her mom up from the nursing home on Sunday’s, or fit in with the executives in his next meeting. But nobody wants a thing. They want what that thing will do in their world. Show them that and you’ll have a winning presentation.

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