Product people have this thing they refer to: Minimum Viable Product, or MVP. It’s the product that you roll out to early-adopters in order to prove that you have something that works, that solves a customer problem and that people will buy. It is an answer to a problem, albeit a limited answer with a limited set of features.
The next time a customer asks you a question about your product or service, consider the Minimum Viable Answer (MVA). Instead of a long-winded and detailed explanation of every feature and benefit, trim your answer back to the basics. Give them a complete answer, but keep it trimmed. And then strive to learn more.
The MVA creates an opportunity to provide a simple, satisfying answer that resonates with your customer because you’ve answered them directly. That in itself is a differentiator. And when followed by a question is a chance to further engage.
Don’t wear them out by explaining the superior functionality or what they can look forward to on the product road map. Instead, leverage the MVA to learn and understand. Don’t worry. There will opportunities to explain features, benefits and product direction. Use the MVA to learn more about what the customer likes, needs…and will pay for.
Rather than reacting to a customer’s question with three minutes of sales babble, state the most succinct but complete answer possible. For example, should a customer ask “Is your system able to run detailed monthly reports?” there are two alternative responses.
- The Typical Way – “Absolutely. Our system uses a robust database and datacube architecture with a user-friendly report designer tool that has drag-n-drop capabilities, multiple fonts, almost infinite formatting options, and a Pantone color palette. And there’s a mobile version for IOS and Android. Also, we have APIs for integration to third-party tools, as well as an executive dashboard that displays graphs, drill-down, and alerts for user-defined KPIs.”
- The MVA Way – “Absolutely.” Or, if you insist… “Absolutely. Are there particular details you’re looking for?”
Why? Because there are times when less really is more. And this is definitely one of them.
Let The Customer Talk
By taking a Minimum Viable Answer approach to questions like these, you’re sparing the prospect from having to listen to a list of product noise that they may have no interest in. Instead, you’re 1) definitively making clear that you have detailed monthly reporting, 2) you’re being respectful of their time and attention, and 3) you’re inviting them to explain their priorities or concerns and that you’re prepared to listen as they do.
As with any technique, an MVA approach to sales engagement and discovery has its limits. There are definitely instances where detailed product/service explanations are warranted, and where a terse, simplistic answer may be off-putting.
But it’s less frequent than you might think. Because most people would rather talk than listen (including many salespeople), an MVA approach to your sales strategy works to disarm and engage your prospect. And every salesperson knows that an engaged, participative customer translates into a better opportunity to craft a compelling proposal and an effective solution.
In short, the Minimum Viable Answer can result in Maximally Successful Customers.