I just read another excellent post by my colleague James Smith entitled "My Sword & My Shield." Whether you are in Sales or Marketing, you need to read Jame's posts for some really insightful views on the sales process. In summary, his post is about the fact that before they had fancy technology tools like powerpoint, video, and interactive demos, a sales person actually had to listen to the customer, understand their problem and work with them to come up with a solution. Nowadays many sales "professionals" have lost the art of listening to, and engaging with, the customer to solve their problem. They use high-tech presentations to sell at the customer, counting on the flash and sizzle of the pitch to close the deal.
Jame's post hit home with me. I vividly recall a 6th grade book report project where my dad, a great businessman, asked me why I spent all my time on the cover art for the report but gave a lazy and superficial analysis of the book. Then he said that I had fallen into the trap of "form over substance." While I didn't appreciate it at the moment it happened, that message stuck with me as I grew and saw examples of it everywhere at school and work. As anyone on my current team would tell you, I'm constantly bemoaning the huge amount of man hours we spend creating beautiful PowerPoints only to see some people use them in a cookie cutter approach, not really understanding why or how they apply to solving the customer's problem.
The message is simple. Flashy creative and technology might get the customer's attention for a few seconds, but thoughtful analysis/insight/content that explains how the product solves the customer's problem is what truly creates value and enables you to win in the long run. The old adage still applies ... content is king and substance wins over form.