I’ve been considering buying a new car. My 2012 Ford Figo is just not looking or sounding like it used to.
I’m also much older now and there’s this weird need in me to have a “grown” car. Something that screams – Hey! I’m 30 and financially stable now!
So I’ve gone to a couple of dealers to weigh up my options and, well…nothing’s caught my eye yet.
I’m grateful my budget is a lot “healthier” than it was 7 years ago. There are also great features in a number of the cars I checked out but specs have very little to do with helping me to decide on buying a car.
Don’t get me wrong. Yes, specs are important. As a tech writer and enthusiast, I always study the specs of any new gadget before buying it so that I know what I’m getting. But that’s not what sways my ultimate decision.
What sways my ultimate decision is how a particular product makes me feel and what needs are being met when I have it. It is that simple for me, and for your target market as well.
Tech Companies Should Stop Speaking Tech
With the information age, more and more tech companies are at the forefront of helping businesses find digital solutions to their everyday flow and management. It seems like each year, systems and software are becoming more complicated to create, and certainly much more complicated to explain.
So, while you may be tempted to explain all the amazing intricacies of how your new CRM software works, all Company X wants to know is if it will help them manage their customer interactions and data.
The thing is, algorithms, AI, machine learning… it’s complicated to the average human.
With software in particular, how do you explain something that can’t be seen? Something that runs in the background? Something that is constantly changing or evolving?
You concentrate on the fact that you’re selling it to a human.
What is Speaking Human?
There’s a reason why website chatbots have been increasingly popular in recent years. They aren’t just another way for a customer to experience a company’s website or brand.
They fulfill one of our most basic needs as human beings – communication.
Human beings want to talk and they want to feel heard.
Psychologist, Leon F. Seltzer explains that “I’ve learned over the years how important it is for people to feel that another can pinpoint their thoughts and feelings…Without experiencing that others know us, or are able to, we’re left feeling alone – at times, despairingly so.”
Okay, so what does psychology have to do with your new software or system that you’re trying to sell? Everything! You’re selling this to humans, after all.
Besides being big communicators, human beings are emotional and feeling beings. While technology can be described as rather “cold” at times.
Understanding that communicating with your target market has nothing to do with technology is, therefore, key to explaining your new complex technology.
Explaining Your Complex Technology To Human Beings
1. Build Rapport
“Rapport Building is at the root of effective communication”. Aldo Civico Ph.D
Rapport can be described as a relationship or connection between people where there’s a harmonious understanding as the individuals concerned understand each other’s views and feelings and communicate smoothly. In other words, being “in sync”.
Building rapport is important because if the person you’re selling your technology to is out of sync with you, it will be hard to convince them to spend their hard-earned money on your technology.
Some people are able to establish these connections very quickly while others need a little help in building these skills.
When trying to build rapport with your target market, here are some tips to help you along the way:
- Pay attention to the other person and listen for shared experiences. You can later speak about something that refers back to these experiences
- Maintain appropriate eye contact, approximately 60% of the time
- Try to mirror the person’s body language when appropriate
- When listening, slightly lean towards them
- Be genuine
There are plenty of other ways to start building rapport but the above points will get you started on building an effective connection between you and your target market.
2. Turn To Analogies
Now that you’ve built a connection between you and your customer, it will be easier to understand what type of analogies to use to explain your complex technology to them.
One of my favorite analogy go-to sites is Sideways Dictionary, built by the Washington Post and Alphabet. Its aim is to explain tech to non-techy people.
For example, encryption is explained as:
“It’s like sending a sealed letter instead of a postcard. To ban encryption would be like requiring all mail to be sent as postcards, including bank statements, medical letters, and holiday photos. Your postman, neighbors and postal service would soon know you pretty well.”
“It’s like the power grid. This is a common alternative analogy. There was a time when manufacturers needed their own power source on site – a water wheel, for example. And their manufacturing capacity was limited by the speed of the river that powered it. The great leap forward came with the power grid, which allowed businesses to plug into power generated elsewhere, using only as much [as] they needed, and more as the business grew. The same is happening now with data storage and processing power.”
And AI is explained as:
“It’s like living in France, not memorizing a French dictionary. Rote learning gets you part of the way, but to master the language, you have to immerse yourself in the culture – learning from every encounter and recognizing patterns in the way people talk. Again, preferably while wearing a turtleneck sweater.”
Notice how none of these analogies had any tech terms yet they managed to explain the gist of the concept or word. All these analogies are something everyone can get.
Find the right analogies to use for your particular products or services and your target market will “get it”.
3. Concentrate on How Your Tech Meets their Needs
No matter how great your new technology is, you won’t be able to sell it if you can’t explain to your target market that it will help solve their problems or meet their needs.
Make sure that you understand the company’s pain points first.
What are they struggling with that your software can help with? Are they expanding and having a difficult time keeping track of all their paperwork? Does your software offer practical means to manage it?
Highlight how your product or service is something that will make their lives a little easier.
4. Get Creative with your Presentation
We all retain information differently. Some people are more visual and need info graphs to help them understand what you’re talking about. While others prefer reading the information to get a clear understanding of your product or service.
Make these available to your target market on your website and also when you go in for a presentation.
Have your team put together diagrams, charts and any relevant imagery that will help to “bring home” the concept to the person who is more visual.
You can also turn to tech writers to help with your white papers, case studies, or any other relevant information that you feel needs to be communicated effectively.
5. Keep It All Simple
This is, perhaps one of the most important points on this list. It can be tied back to each suggestion listed above:
- When trying to build rapport – don’t overdo it. Keep it simple
- When using analogies – the simpler, the better
- When explaining how your tech meets their needs – highlight what their problem is, and how you’ll fix it. Simple
- When putting together a creative presentation – keep the writing and visuals simple to drive home the uses of your technology
Keeping it simple is also key because of the lovely fact that your tech is already complex enough!
Technology is all around us. It has infiltrated our everyday lives and each day, there are men and women who are dedicated to improving the systems, software, hardware, etc.
These devoted designers and creators design and create some of the most complicated systems that many people just can’t wrap their heads around.
But people don’t HAVE to wrap their minds around exactly how Cloud Computing, ai, or machine learning works. They just need to understand why they need it and if you can make them feel great about having it, that’s an added bonus.
As for me and my new car escapades – I’ll still be searching, trying to find a car that speaks to me in more than just specs. I’m open to suggestions for any car that makes a 30-year-old feel “grown”. Whatever that means!
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