Dialogue 9. Offer
S: Why is a preliminary proposal not enough? Everything is said there!
T: An offer is your solo. You are singing why the buyer might need your goods and services and why he is better off getting all this from you rather than from your competitors.
In order to succeed you need to consider its three main aspects: positioning, persuasion and presentation. Positioning explains to the buyer why he might need your, not your competitor’s product. The presentation consolidates this position and explains it in detail. Your conviction shows the buyer that you are neither manipulating nor deceiving him and helps him believe that your promises can certainly come true.
S: What is “positioning”? What does this word mean?
T: Positioning is the main argument that the buyer needs your product rather than “any” one.
Positioning should tell the buyer neither about you nor about your product, nor about your company. Positioning should tell the buyer... about him, about the buyer.
What do sales experts say, for example, the same Nikolai Rysyov?
... understanding of how your company stands out in the minds of the customer among competitors... is positioning. The correct presentation of competitive and distinctive advantages is the key to a true presentation.
It seems like this is true. You need to show the buyer how your product and your company differ from competitors. However, the buyer does not care. The buyer’s only interest is the buyer and his needs. And nothing more. Period.
Here's what Rice and Trout [Al Ries and Jack Trout, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, A Time Warner Company, 1981] say about positioning. It was they who introduced this concept into circulation:
Positioning starts with a product. A piece of merchandise, a service, a company, an institution, or even a person. Perhaps yourself.
But positioning is not what you do to a product. Positioning is what you do to the mind of the prospect. That is, you position the product in the mind of the prospect.
So, it’s incorrect to call the concept “product positioning.” You’re not really doing something to [the] product itself.
Not that positioning doesn’t involve change. It often does. But changes made in the name, the price, and the package are really not changes to the product at all. They’re basically cosmetic changes done for the purpose of securing a worthwhile position in the prospect’s mind.
To properly position, you need to understand what is happening in the minds of prospects, potential buyers. We should get into the head of the buyer and look at the positioning with his eyes.
The buyer is interested only in himself and his needs. Your product is nothing more than one of many possibilities to satisfy these needs. If other products offered by your competitors satisfy these needs in the same way, he does not care what to choose, either your product or any its equivalents. The chances that he chooses your product, as you know, are equal to one divided by the number of available alternatives. If, say, 10 similar products, including yours, are available to him, your chances of success are just one in ten, or 10%. And this does not mean at all that out of ten buyers one definitely buys your product. Not necessarily.
The buyer buys your product because he believes he can better satisfy his needs as a result of this purchase. In other words, he needs to get more benefits from your product than from any of its counterparts.
How to understand what benefits your product could give the buyer? We will talk about this a bit later, in the section Presentation. In the meantime, let’s figure out what types of positioning could be used.
Take for granted that a person or company can use the same product to satisfy different needs (yes, companies have their own needs that are not reduced to the needs of their employees or owners!). Each product is created to meet one specific need, to fulfill one specific purpose. A drill bit is a product intended for making holes in materials. Theodore Levitt argued, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!” But why do they need this hole? Insert a pin, hang a picture. Make the room beautiful. Please the wife, give her a gift. Get her to stop talking, “He is a useless bag of thumbs.” And so on. But the main purpose of the drill is not to convince the buyer that he is not a useless bag of thumbs, but to make holes.
From this point of view, the main benefit from using the product is to better satisfy the need by completing the job for which the product is intended. True, with the same product one can do other jobs. Can I hammer a nail with a microscope? Yes, if nothing else is at hand. Is it possible to determine the height of a building using a barometer and a chronometer? Yes, just drop the barometer from the roof and use the chronometer to measure time it takes barometer to hit the ground. If there is nothing else at hand one could use to do the job better, easier, more precisely, even the barometer might be the best to find out the height of the building. We call this an alternative benefit. Well, all the improvements in meeting the other needs (remember? A drill allows you to do better “to make room nice,” “wife is happy,” “wife believes that her husband is a handyman”) we could call derivative benefits because they are derived from the main or alternative benefits.
Rice and Trout argue:
To cope with the product explosion, people have learned to rank products and brands in the mind. Perhaps this can best be visualized by imagining a series of ladders in the mind. On each step is a brand name. and each different ladder represents a different product category.
An advertiser who wants to introduce a new product category must carry in a new ladder.
A new ladder could be created in one of three ways: provide a new main benefit, offer a new alternative benefit or a new derivative benefit. How to create a new product ladder for a drill? There could be one out of three ladders: if we find how the drill provides, in a new way, the best hole, it could better satisfy the basic need; if we find a new, unexpected application for the drill that improves the satisfaction of alternative needs; or if we discover a new logical chain leading to a previously unknown derivative benefit. This is how positioning works: from the benefits that the consumer would gain by purchasing your product or service.