The famous marketing statement is “No one wants to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want to buy a quarter-inch hole.” The customer’s problem is that they have a piece of wood, and they need a hole in it. What’s the best solution to that problem? A drill, of course. So the customer goes looking for a drill to solve their problem.
Most companies focus on selling to the customer by talking about how great their drill is… all the features of their drill, how much better their drill is than the competition, etc. This isn’t the worst thing in the world. At least it’s basic value selling. The problem is that it’s focused on the seller, not on the customer.
The thing is, the customer really doesn’t care about the drill. They care about the hole. What they want is the best solution to their problem. If you understand more about the kind of hole they need, all the pain they’ve dealt with in the past with poorly drilled holes, why they care about the hole in the first place, how to deliver a hole that absolutely meets their specifications, then you can really solve their problem better than anyone. And more importantly, you are now selling in the customer’s language. You are selling what they need, not what you have to sell (which absolutely solves the problem). It’s a subtle but important difference.
Why does this matter? Sell the drill, and you will struggle to get out of selling on price and being compared to your competitor. Sell the hole, and you will escape this realm. Sell the hole, not the drill.