Sell the Strengths (Issue 527)

In which we are reminded to sell the strengths we have rather than those we wish for.

On Saturday, I invested a day with my family and a few friends to join fellow citizens from Concord, MA  for tornado relief. We drove west to a pretty Massachusetts town, a portion of which hard- hit by the early June tornados. We became “Team 5,” assigned to assist a homeowner clear her property.

If you looked at an overhead map of her street, you would see trees… acres of trees… so thick that no perennial flowers would grow.  Her house sits close to the top of a hill on a street that the tornado apparently liked, for it crossed the Connecticut river and, moved straight up her street and over her hill.

Happily, she and her house were spared, save for a couple of cracked windows, but her barn and several houses close to the bottom of her hill were demolished or severely reduced in height. Virtually none of her trees survived the storm, including several thick-trunked oaks and silver maples that were older than 100 years.

Our work day was beautiful, increasingly warm and sunny with intermittent light breeze. We cut and pulled tree limbs, cut and pulled some more, and then cut and pulled more after that, barely looking beyond the head-high mounds of severed tree branches and sawed limbs.

We broke for lunch around 1:00 pm, and as I turned from my brush pile, and looked down hill, I was treated to a magnificent view of Hamden County’s green hills, rolling off into the distance. A spectacular view.  My first thought was, “Well, when she sells this house in a few years, the tag line will be ‘sunny, beautiful mountain view” rather than “private heavily wooded lot.”

Very few of us sell “category killer” products for which we have only to whisper the name and clients buy case loads of them. Most of us sell products that have some weaknesses or some competitive disadvantages, even for ideal buyers. Some of us sell products that, frankly, fall well short of market leadership.

We can sell them successfully if…we are clear about what our products do well, and if… we focus on the prospects who would welcome those benefits, and if…we find out enough about our clients’ and prospects’ needs and preferences that we can position our products’ advantages to address those needs and preferences and while providing workable options to address shortcomings.

Hamden county, Massachusetts, post-tornado.  The house isn’t what it was and is, by some measures, severely compromised.  Like the owner of this property when it’s time for us to sell, we sell the strengths we have rather than those we wish for.

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