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Quick tip: Just flip it!

So you’re interviewing a salesperson and all they can talk about is their great new “solution.”

But you want to talk about the problems their customers have.

You need to understand why anyone needs the new product.

Here’s a simple way to reframe that conversation: Flip it!

  • Flip each positive into a negative
  • Flip every benefit into a cost
  • Flip each feature into the problem it solves

Let’s say the product is a new line of servers for big data centers.

And the sales guy is on about liquid cooling, embedded security, and modular components.

You can take each new feature and flip it from a positive to a negative.

Feature #1: Liquid cooling

What’s the opposite of cool? Hot!

Everyone knows data center servers generate a ton of heat.

And that means huge AC bills and pressure from managers to cut costs.

Grumpy employees. Premature stress on components. Servers that fail before they should. More cost and effort to replace hardware.

Now you can ask the sales guy to tell you about those things. He may have some great customer stories to tell you.

Feature #2: Embedded security

If you don’t know what something means, ask.

“Well,” says the sales exec, “this new line offers secure booting, 1024-bit encryption, and on-the-fly firmware validation.”

And what’s the opposite of “secure”?

Vulnerable. Unprotected. Compromised. Exploited.

That’s the problem. No IT guy wants his system to succumb to a cyber attack.

So now you can start delving into the hopes and fear of every IT manager that his system won’t be breached.

Feature #3: Modular components

What does that mean?

The sales guy says the server is built as modules you can remove and replace, without even taking the rest of the unit out of the rack.

You can replace just the CPU, memory, I/O ports, or power supply.

And what’s the opposite of modular?

Monolithic. Integrated. All-in-one.

In old-fashioned monolithic servers, when one component burns out, the whole unit is trash.

That means more downtime, more effort, more e-waste, and more costs.

Now you can ask the sales guy about all those things.

See how flipping works?

Even if you have nothing to work with but a datasheet on a new product, you can flip every feature into its opposite.

That really helps you start to imagine why that would be a problem.


For more quick tips like this, subscribe to my newsletter, White Paper World. 

About Gordon Graham

Worked on 320+ white papers for clients from Silicon Valley to Switzerland, on everything from choosing enterprise software to designing virtual worlds for kids, for clients from tiny startups to 3M, Google, and Verizon. Wrote White Papers for Dummies which earned 60+ 5-star ratings on Amazon. Won 16 awards from the Society for Technical Communication. Named AWAI 2019 Copywriter of the Year.

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