I see it all the time. A sales rep, armed with fancy new technology, walks into his prospect’s office and tries to wow them with buzzwords and complex techie lingo. Figuring that they’ll really impress their prospect with their industry knowledge, they actually end up hurting their chances of closing the sale because the prospect ends up feeling overwhelmed or stupid.

Imagine if Steve Jobs had tried to do this when he introduced the first iPhone. He walks out onto the stage in his blue jeans and turtle neck and says this:

“The iPhone’s screen detects touch through one of two methods: Mutual capacitance or self capacitance. In mutual capacitance, the capacitive circuitry requires two distinct layers of material. One houses driving lines, which carry current, and the other houses sensing lines, which detect the current at nodes. Self capacitance uses one layer of individual electrodes connected with capacitance-sensing circuitry.” Source: HowStuffWorks.com

Are you impressed or are your eyes crossed? Does this make you want to run out and buy the new iPhone or does it make you want to stick with stuff that you know and understand?

If you had truly not seen an iPhone before and didn’t know what it did, this description would leave you thoroughly unimpressed (unless you happen to know what mutual capacitance is, I guess). If not, you would be left completely ignorant of the brilliance of the product itself.

Steve Jobs was smart enough to not talk about the capacitance-sensing circuitry, but rather what happens “above the glass.” He showed how touching an icon launched an application. He showed how pinching one’s fingers could zoom in on an image or a map. He showed how swiping across the screen could advance to the next page or photo.

Do you know how all this works? Do you care? Does anyone? Not really. When we’re looking at an iPhone, we’re more interested in what it does than we are how it does it.

That’s true of other technical sales too.

Take geo-fencing for example. The owner of that barbecue restaurant is interested in showing his ads to people who eat at his competitors’ locations. He’s interested in showing his ads to the folks at the local baseball stadium or the local hotels within driving distance of his restaurant.

Is it important that he understand that someone is manually drawing polygons around those locations in a software platform that utilizes Google Maps? Is it important that he understand how location services work on the smartphones and how three or more satellites must confirm the phone’s location before it is added to his targeted audience? Does it matter that the ads are purchased programmatically through a real-time bidding exchange that utilizes hundreds of thousands of websites and apps?

That all sounds cool. But at the end of day does any of that matter? That’s the stuff that is “below the glass.” That’s technical mumbo jumbo that might sound fancy and impressive but isn’t what truly tells the story of geo-fencing.

The “above the glass” story sounds more like this: “Mr. Advertiser, if I could show your ads to people who visit these twenty local restaurants… if I could show your ads to people who are attending the local baseball game… if I could show your ads to out-of-town visitors at these nine hotels… would that be of interest to you?”

I just described his ideal prospect list. If that isn’t enough to get his attention, then I don’t know what else to say. This might be your cue to go and pitch the other twenty local restaurants and see if they want to show their ads to his customers!

Thanks for reading.