In Week 5, we went in-depth on the APPCOM Framework.
This post is adapted based on this article on APPCOM.
The APPCOM framework is a skeleton for a conversation you have that involves persuasion. It allows you to methodically uncover the needs and concerns of any audience, and offer the corresponding benefits to address these concerns.
They key intention here was not to try and sell a product, the main goal rather was to establish a clear purpose statement and to clearly distinguish the needs of the customer.- Gabriel
In summary, APPCOM is an acronym for:
Approval — Obtain approval and gain liking in order to build support
Purpose — Set the context for the meeting
Probing — Understand the concerns of your audience and uncover the real, painful needs
Consulting — Match the features of your product to the needs of the audience, emphasizing the benefits as a result
Overcoming Objections — Address concerns that your audience has
Motivating to Close — Gaining agreement for them to take the next steps forward
Empathetic listening is vital in this process!
Key ingredient: Listen
While Dr. Lin role-played as the client for the different group, I realised that the most important skill is to LISTEN. As simple as that may sound, listening is the key to connecting building rapport. And the first few groups failed to do that without Dr. Lin’s guidance.
Our first instinct is always to talk about ourselves and our experiences.
Me, me, me. But often, in business, it is who you are serving. The spotlight should be on them and their experiences and their problems. This way, they feel more inclined to purchase your product or service.-Vanessa
Questions your audience is asking: Do you know what you are talking about? Can I trust you? Do you have my best interest at heart?
Questions the audience is asking: What am I here for? Why did you ask me for this conversation? You can consider stating purposes such as “At the end of the meeting, I’d like to ask you if you see a potential fit working together”, and this helps to establish the direction of the meeting.
Once you have established the purpose of the meeting, it’s time for your audience to do more talking. You should not launch into your product’s features or benefits — after all, you do not know what your customer’s pain points are!
When your audience states their problems, treat it with respect and care. Confirm and restate what you heard “It sounds like you are facing XXX challenges” or “If I understand you correctly, you are saying that you spend XXX time doing XXX”. This shows that you genuinely care, and affirms your understanding of your audience’s problems
What I learned is, most of us have an inclination and concern about the ability to sell something. However, the most important step is to know your customer. Without that knowledge, our interviews become meaningless and unfruitful, perhaps it may even suggests to potential investors that a concrete business model has yet to be developed. -Gabriel
Questions the audience is asking: How can you help me solve my challenges?
Now that you know the problems your audience is facing, you are allowed to introduce your product’s features and benefits. Match the appropriate feature to the problem you heard earlier, and be sure to explain the benefit after your product is adopted.
Questions the audience is asking: I have concerns with regard to your solution.
Objections are common after you present your product. Hearing these objections not only presents the opportunity to gain valuable feedback for your product, but also opportunities for you to address them. Remember that objections are not rejections! That your audience bothers to voice out their concerns is a positive sign that they are interested in adopting your product, and are considering the implications.
To deal with objections, use the Feel-Felt-Found method. Re-state and affirm what your audience feels (“I know you’re unsure about adopting this product”) so you demonstrate awareness of how your audience feels, then assure them that previous clients have felt similar sentiments (“Previous clinics also were cautious about adopting our app”), and what these clients found after using your solution (“But these clinics found that they were able to achieve 30% productivity improvements 2 months after our solutions”). This allows your audience to be heard and assured, without dismissing their genuine concerns.
Motivating to Close
Questions the audience is asking: Ok, this sounds good. What next?
The final part of the conversation is most critical, where you should not forget to close and make your clear ask. Do not assume that a good conversation results in a close. Make the ask clear and tangible, and attach a timeline with it.
APPCOM definitely makes for a useful framework as it gives us quite a methodical approach in persuasive sales pitching. It is very apparent that it takes lots of practice and self-awareness to ensure that we are not hard-selling and we should actively listen out for our customers’ needs and pain points, and coming in as the solution provider to their problems. We will surely have many opportunities to practice the APPCOM method over the next few months as we continue to meet with various stakeholders
Ending off with a random photo of us :)