3 simple steps to sell high-tech products to low-tech buyers

by Steli Efti
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You did it. You developed the next great tech product. The features are endless, the benefits innumerable. It’s a game-changer. So you meet with prospect— traditional buyers— and recite all the ways your solution changes everything. You provide diagrams and data. You discuss industry trends and the future.

But that’s when you see them. The blank stares.

You realize that your traditional buyers just aren’t comfortable with innovative technology. They don’t like change. They don’t get why your product is such a big deal. (It's a common scenario when selling high-tech products, and we cover more on this topic in our free Startup Sales Success course.)

So where’d you lose them? The answer is pretty simple.

You never discussed the cost of ignoring such an opportunity.

Remember this formula:

The Past + FOMO

In these situations, my advice is always the same: relate your new technology to something that happened in the past, then connect it to one of the most powerful motivators in sales—the fear of missing out.

Let’s say you’ve developed a social media ad platform and you want to sell it to car dealers.

Dealers aren’t typically innovative and tech-savvy buyers, but they spend tons of money. If you start with next-generation features and the future of advertising, they’re going to think your pitch is bullshit.

You’ll get questions like, “How does this make any sense for us?” and “How’s this going to help us sell cars?”

When buyers feel overwhelmed, intimidated, or confused, the pitch gets difficult.

Ask yourself the following question:

What was the last technology to disrupt how dealerships do business?

A recent example is Google AdWords. Paid search advertising was something dealers ignored until they could no longer afford to do so. In the beginning, many of them still funneled their ad spends into newspapers, billboards, and TV. The few dealers who invested early in AdWords understood the way people would shop for cars in the future. They saw an opportunity to build expertise in a platform that would give them a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

With this in mind, let’s use AdWords to sell your high-tech product to low-tech buyers.

Step 1: Relate to the past

Remind low-tech buyers of a time when they came upon a new technology too late. Start with something like:

Remember the early days of Google AdWords? Dealers weren’t spending money on paid search. The whole thing seemed crazy, right? Who’s looking for cars on the internet? Most dealers had no clue what it meant for their business.

By recalling a time when technology felt confusing, even esoteric, you’re letting them admit to prior insecurities. They likely weren’t one of the first AdWords adopters, so they know how much it sucked, how much it hurt, when they missed out on a technology that could have provided a competitive advantage. By relating to the past, you’re handing them something tangible—a previous mistake.

Step 2: Pitch the present

This is when you discuss all the great things your new ad platform has to offer. Try this:

I’m going to share something that may seem weird or intimidating, but in the next five years, every one of your competitors will be using this platform. What I’m about to show you, most dealers would ignore. Most dealers would wait until it’s too late.

You’re telling them that this uneasy feeling is the same one their competitors have. It’s what they’ve all felt whenever they encounter new technology.

Explain that your social media ad platform already reaches 500 million people. Highlight major successes with your current run of advertisers. Talk about features, benefits, and your approach to advertising. Do all of this.

But do it after you’ve related your platform to a past technology that’s now become industry standard.

Step 3: Show them the future

This is where you connect to their fear of missing out. By ignoring your platform, they’re repeating the same mistakes. They’re letting caution outweigh innovation. Some of their risk-taking competitors will take you up on your offer. They’ll take the lead, build expertise, and collect all the early money that comes with being first to market.

Tell them:

This platform is so simple and so powerful that it won’t take a lot of your time. And if you invest only a small percentage of your budget, if you make an early bet on this technology, I guarantee that you’re going to gain the upper hand on your competition.

All they have to do is spend X dollars over the next two months. If they see a return, they can reinvest that return to stay ahead of any late adopters.

Your solution may be the future, but don’t forget about the past.

Remind traditional buyers of a time when they rejected technology and regretted it. Maybe it was getting their business online, or email marketing, or Google AdWords. Then, after you’ve looked to the past, connect those missed opportunities to the fear of missing out. Only then will they be ready to think about your product in the right frame of mind.

So go out and experiment with these 3 simple steps. Get crazy. Show low-tech buyers that by embracing your high-tech product, they’ll gain a competitive advantage when it matters the most: right now.

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