Forget about explaining the tech…it can wait

I met a founder who told me prospects didn’t understand how his product could help their business until the 3rd meeting, at best. Needless to say, he didn’t get to the 3rd meeting very often.

Most founders tell me it’s hard for people to get their product until they “see it in action.” (Cue the long demo.)

It’s a worldwide epidemic amongst tech founders: not being able to clearly and concisely explain what your product is…or does.

It shows up in extra long PowerPoint decks, over-wrought diagrams, technical jargon and countless would-be customers who are left feeling confused…or worse yet, feeling a bit dumb.

This epidemic is holding back startups from reaching their next growth milestone and potential impact on the world.

So what’s the cure?

You may think it has to do with simplifying or dumbing down your technology. But that won’t help either. Because people don’t need to understand your technology to want to buy it. They need to understand how you can solve a worthwhile problem and help them change for the better.

The easiest way to explain your product is to connect the dots between the problem it solves for a customer and their bigger aspirations.

That’s all your customer needs to understand at first. The technology can wait.

Focus on the problem you saw

I always ask founders to tell me why they built their product in the first place.

What problem did they see? How do current solutions fall short? What’s the impact on people?

It may seem like an obvious, fundamental part of your product. But it’s easy to lose sight of the simplicity of the problem you set out to solve after months or even years of product development, growth, change, etc.

Depending on where your business is today, that first problem you set out to solve may seem a million miles away. And yet, it might still be right there too. See if it still resonates. If not, think about what that new problem is and get clear on how you’re solving it.

Find the right language (aka your customer’s)

Your product solves a problem. Your customers have that problem. But they probably don’t see it the way you do. They may use entirely different words.

For example, I worked with a founder whose SaaS platform helped franchise owners deal with bad, outdated data in a variety of silos. They had hellish, awful databases and this founder wanted to help.

But his customers didn’t think they had a “data” problem. They definitely didn’t care about databases either.

So the founder and I looked into the ways this bad data was making life hard. Specifically, it was causing a lot of problems with deliveries between stores.

We honed in on how his product solved this: streamlining deliveries.

But we didn’t stop there. What were the bigger implications to this problem? How was it getting in the way of the franchise owner’s bigger aspirations?

The messed up deliveries were taking managers away from their #1 job: spending time with customers and growing loyalty.

Now he describes his solution as a way to help franchise owners find more time to delight customers by streamlining deliveries.

The problem you want to solve is your starting point. You need to cross-check it with what your customers (or ideal prospects) think about that problem. It’s as easy as getting them on the phone and asking a few questions like:

  • What made you seek a solution in the first place? What was challenging?
  • How did things change by using the product?
  • What feature would you miss most if it was taken away?

The aim is to find out what they value in your solution and how they describe that value.

That’s the secret to speaking your customer’s language.

So next time you find yourself tripping over the tech or not getting the reaction you want, give yourself permission to put the tech aside and see your product from your customer’s point of view.

Then you’ll see something bigger than any technology: a new way for a person or business to change for the better.

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