One of the most common missteps I see sales professionals make is that they become too focused on the product they’re selling — features and benefits — at the expense of language that really speaks to their target customer. Buyers want solutions to problems, not products to buy. When you can show a deep understanding of your prospect’s problems and environment, you often never even need to discuss product features in-depth to win the sale.

So, how do you speak to buyers in a way that demonstrates you know what challenges they’re facing, and invites them to open up about their needs?

The Four Pillars of Buyer Thought are guideposts for how to frame language so that it resonates with your prospective targets. While a buyer persona often defines WHO you are selling to, the Four Pillars of Buyer Thought help you define WHAT you should be saying to them to activate them to talk deeply about their pain points (and discover what problems you or your product can then solver for them!).

The Four Pillars are topics, trends, metrics, and outcomes. They are built atop a foundation of the prospect’s core values, driven by his or her personal and professional mandates. Let’s look at each of the pillars:

  • Topics: Broad-based industry challenges or opportunities that interest your buyer either from the perspective of fear (“If I don’t figure this out, I’ll lose”) or success (“I can really win if I master this”)
  • Trends: How your buyer frames their future: what headwinds are on the horizon for their industry, what demographic, regulatory, or technological changes are coming?
  • Metrics: These are what your prospect is accountable for; how he or she is measured daily, quarterly, or annually.
  • Outcomes: What does the future look like if your buyer is successful? The direction those metrics are moving are key to outcomes and ultimately what your buyer wants to achieve.

I spend a lot of time on The Four Pillars of Buyer Thought when I’m teaching either live workshops or private bootcamps on The Sales Cadence, because understanding buyer thought is crucial to engaging prospects.

Spend some time this week developing your own matrix based on your knowledge of who you sell to. Focus on what’s central to the buyer, and aim to strip product and feature language out of your initial conversations and replace it with topics, trends, metrics and outcomes. You’ll see an astonishing difference!