The KISS Principle (Keep It Simple Stupid) is critical in today’s business marketplace, particularly because of two big factors:
1. The digital world has complicated the sales process. It’s easier than ever for customers to compare and contrast widgets, and get sucked down a “rabbit hole” never to be heard from again.
2. Professional service solutions—which are increasing in frequency—are naturally complex, and often difficult for customers to easily grasp (i.e., they’re intangible).
But there’s hope: Get ready to KISS.
Thanks to the digital world, it is now insanely easy for your prospective customers to do research about your “widgets”—and your competitors’—enabling them to dissect and potentially dilute your value proposition, while creating their own unique impressions. In essence, a lot of ‘perception control’, and control of the buying process, has shifted to customers.
The above issue becomes exacerbated when it comes to selling professional service solutions (e.g., consulting). The natural complexity of an intangible product (i.e., a professional service) is already difficult enough by itself; when you factor in the ability for prospects to easily compare and contrast all the available offerings, well, you just created a really difficult situation for your solution to rise above the rest… and most importantly, you failed to provide a compelling ‘I absolutely need to buy this right now—and if I don’t I might die’ feeling for your prospects.
Given these scenarios, I believe two important things need to happen:
1. We need to make it profoundly simple—I’m talking round-peg-in-round-hole kind of simple—for people to want to interact with us and/or buy something from us.
Look at one of my favorite companies: Apple. They pulled their retail store staff out from the traditional retail staff position behind cash registers to walk on the floor next to potential customers. Right along side them. And they even purposely hire staff who look and feel like me and you. (I know this, because I was once one of them.) They make their retail staff highly approachable. Further, they make it insanely simple for you to buy something when you want to buy it—their floor staff carries a mobile credit card processing machine (using one of their products nonetheless… talk about product placement). In short, they make customers feel comfortable; then they make it easy for them to buy. Bam. Done. Next.
2. We need to make whatever we’re selling relevant to peoples’ stage in the buying cycle, and relevant to their specific situation.
For example, you wouldn’t try to sell a six-figure consulting solution via email to someone who literally just entered your sales pipeline for the first time ever, right? (You have NO idea how many companies still try to do this… another post for another day, I digress.)
Now, it’s important to note I am not recommending a once-size-fits-all approach here; you needn’t obliterate your entire solution set just because you’re “compelled to make it simpler and/or smaller.” On the contrary, what I’m suggesting is that we need to be savvy enough to identify the situation a customer or prospect is in, and then curate our solution sets into easily digestible, relevant presentations of valuable offerings and/or information. In other words, present the right solutions at the right times. And do it simply.
Is what I’m recommending difficult to do? Perhaps. But it’s worth it. And necessary. In fact, I’m reminded of a quote by Mark Twain:
“If you want me to give you a two-hour presentation, I am ready today. If you want only a five-minute speech, it will take me two weeks to prepare.”
It takes effort to KISS effectively.
Here’s a brief (or in keeping with our current theme: KISS) article from HBR to get keep your neurons firing: Could Fewer Products Lead to More Profits?