Complexity is the Enemy.

Complexity is the Enemy.

As sellers we’re often nervous about asking for the number. It’s scary to say “will you budget $2 million to run this program with us in Q1?” We’re scared of the number because we think the customer is scared of it too. But that’s not what they’re frightened by at all.

Complexity is what’s really scary. Technical complexity conjures up risk, disruption, massive change. It highlights what we know vs. what they don’t. It makes them feel unprepared, under-resourced. Complexity is the petri dish where doubt grows.

Too often, we not only ignore the implications of complexity, we actively conjure it up. We share dazzling flow charts and demos, packed with cylinders and data sources and lightning bolts. Terabytes of this and nanoseconds of that. We let our geek flags fly… and unintended consequences follow.

Because the customer is more worried about losing control than they are about spending money.

Here’s a suggestion: Before you show the client a single slide about your company or your product, show them a slide with a few facts about their own situation. Then launch one that speaks very specifically to the problem you are there to help them solve. Spend the first ten minutes of your meeting getting really specific about their issue – the gap they face, their hidden lack of productivity, the incremental audience they’re not reaching, the sales they’re leaving on the table for their competitor to cash in on.

If they believe you truly understand the problem, they’ll trust your expertise in solving it … at least enough so that you can advance the sale. But start yammering on about the speeds of your ad calls and the countries where you have data centers and you’ll see it all evaporate. This is particularly true when we cross the line from the familiar technical implementers and start selling to business-side decision makers (spoiler alert: they’re the ones with the money, power and authority to make a big bet with you).

Repeat after me: We get you. We got you! We understand your company and the issue you’re facing and we’re qualified to help you solve it. We’ll do the hard work with your subject matter experts and have the process and the team to do this right. I’m not going to go through all the tech because that’s not your job, it’s ours. Now what I need is your approval and a budget to start doing the work I know we can do for you.

We get you... We got you!

Original illustration by Eric Sands.