How To Sell Software Like Kids Toys | I Want Duplo Blocks!

grandstand-330931_1280Here’s a story that you just might be able to relate too!  One of my favorite things about sales is how the experiences in my job are applicable to my personal life as a husband, father, sibling, son, and friend. The same can be said the other direction: The experiences I have as a husband, sibling, son, father, and friend are applicable to selling stuff! Success in sales is all about interaction with other humans. It involves psychology, communication, emotions and problem solving.

One weekend morning I was sitting at home with my daughter watching cartoons while simultaneously thinking about a recent experience I had at work. Then something came across the screen and boom, I had an epiphany.

About a year ago we started to let our 2 year old daughter watch a couple cartoon shows per day. It took no time for her to become a huge fan of UmizoomiBubble Guppies and Paw Patrol. *Cartoons are particularly helpful for keeping the house quiet to let her lil brother enjoy his morning nap!*

We usually use On Demand to tee up the shows because there are no commercials (so we thought) and we can pick something up from the start of a show. I must not have been paying close enough attention because our cable provider started embedding short commercials in the intro before the shows started. The most common commercial was a quick 30 second spot for something called duplo blocks.

At first my daughter must have ignored the intro in anticipation of the show she was about to watch because we never knew the commercials were making an impact. Then one day something clicked. A certain commercial caught her eye and she really wanted this new toy. Every time the commercial came on she would lose her cute little mind . She would jump up off the couch and run to me on to her tippy toes, look up and says “Daddy I want duplo blocks”! Then within a few weeks another interesting development: Every one of my family members knew she wanted these friggin things! Her life would not be complete until she had them.

She eventually got what she wanted.

1) If I would have gotten her some knock off version of this toy, it would have been a bad scene. Anyone that has a toddler knows what I mean.

2) There is no way I would have ever bought them for her without this constant exposure because I had no idea what they were. She had no idea what they were either. Without the commercials her life would have kept cruising along as she enjoyed her cartoons.

Our job in SaaS sales is to replicate the duplo scenario.  My advice is to view decision makers (whomever they be in your sale) as “Parents” and general employees/users of your solution/service as “Children”. The most effective SaaS companies/reps/managers both influence the parent AND the child. You need to market, connect with and communicate to both sides of this buying scenario. (I’m choosing not to evoke a 2 parent scenario, way too easy for my wife to be the stingy CFO and me the freewheeling CEO)

For us @Box the “Parent” is mostly the CIO or the IT department in general. The children are often a front line department like sales or marketing. The CIO’s job is to protect the company from cyber attacks, losing IP or anyone from generally hurting the company reputation while also providing necessary technology for the employees to survive/thrive. I can tell you nowadays the kids and parents in this scenario don’t always see eye to eye 🙂

A lot of what makes Box successful is its ability to appeal to both the “Parents” and the “Children” within our customer base. My advice to you is to find a way to do the same! Connect with your “Parent” audience with the things they need to feel confident/secure in what they are buying and make it impossible for the parents to live in their house if they buy anything for their “Children” besides duplo!

* If you are at an early stage company this will not apply in the same way because you are selling to a whole different type of “parent” than when you are more mature and your market is more competitive and saturated. As you move along the adoption/acceptance curve and move from selling to Innovators onto the Early & Late Majority folks your skills at gathering more influence from the “children” needs to evolve and become a more important part of your GTM. (Geoffrey A. Moore talks a ton about this paradigm in his book Crossing the Chasm). Personally I see the Innovators as the cool parents that buy new toys first. Their kids have drones, they were the first ones with iPads and cell phones. if you are selling to these types of folks in my experience they are less likely to need a high level of influence and validation from their employees in order to buy from you. You can sell them on a vision of the future and they are willing to take risks.  Now as you move along the curve and start to sell to the parents that are more cautious you will need to gather more momentum and support from the children to drive a sale .*

* You can learn more about me on Linkedin or on Twitter *

* If you see an acronym or word anywhere on the site that you haven’t seen before, I might have posted an explanation here If not tell me and I’ll add it!*

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