During my recent flight on American Airlines to US, I got a chance to flip through their recent edition of in-flight magazine – American Ways. I came across this very well written article by Joseph Guinto titled – “Making a Change” – in which he talks about how one can make a career change if the existing one is not working out for him or her. One of the sub-title caught my eye – “Forget your experience, sell your experiences“.
While the context of the above statement has been used more from a job-career perspective; IMO, it also applies a lot to many aspects of marketing and selling of any products or services. From a job-career perspective, I have seen that it is a common habit of focusing more on self as individuals rather than trying to describe self as part of a role played in a particular scenario.
Sounds confusing as to what I meant? Well, here is a very simplistic example. Suppose you are an experienced Java programmer and you want to mention this attribute of yours on your resume. Based on my experience of scanning thousands of resumes, I think majority of the individuals would have written this as -
“Experienced Java Programmer” or “Java Programmer with 5 years of experience”
Note that the above statement is only referring to your experience i.e. what you know and how much you know (Assuming here that years of experience is a quantifiable way of measuring how much you know. Whether that is true or not is a point of another debate). What if the above experience can be put in the manner as below -
“Successfully helped build a streaming media product using Java for a online social media start-up with needs for rapid go-to-market, managing fast-evolving requirements, and collaborating with geographically distributed team.”
Now the above statement in a way talks about your experience in a holistic manner. You are no longer just alluding to your knowledge about Java; but also referring to your overall experiences in building a particular product in a particular environment. Joseph Guinto in his article points to a quote from Rachel Canter – you would get hired for a job not because you think you can do the job, but only if the person/organization hiring you thinks that you can do the job. To do that – as a seller you have to sell your experiences and not just your experience.
IMO, the above statement about selling experiences applies not only to the people looking for a career change, but also to selling other things in life. For example – selling products or services! More and more customers are more interested in knowing if products fits in with their personal needs rather than just simply knowing what the product can do. A classic case of this is Amazon Customer Reviews feature. Customers who have brought the specific product put in their experiences associated with their buy. Potential buyers read through these reviews and typically decide if the product fits in with their needs. Considering that in today’s highly competitive market – be it for a product or any services offering or be it to all of us as individuals if we were to consider ourselves as a product - when almost all of these things are dime-a-dozen, it is the experiences which sells. Just ask Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz or Virgin CEO, Richard Branson or Kingfisher CEO – Vijay Mallaya!
Thoughts and comments are most welcome!