An obscure feature can unexpectedly help seal the deal, but it requires the seller to have intimate hands-on familiarity with the product.
The TV Hiatus
Our household has been TV-free for the past 12 years. To put that in context, the last TV we owned was a 24 inch CRT and there were hardly any HD channels being broadcast then. Cut to 2019, 4K is now ancient news, and Japan has already started broadcasting in glorious 8K! We decided it was time to jump on the bandwagon, if not 8K, then at least a measly 4K TV. I made a trip to PC Richards down the block from my place in New York and was immediately bombarded by technical buzzwords that made me feel like a proper Luddite: high dynamic range, deep black levels, LED v. OLED v. QLED, local dimming, full-array v. edge lighting, refresh rates and beyond. It was time to admit defeat and speak to an actual human sales person. One conveniently materialized - he probably saw the glaze in my eyes and felt a tinge of pity - "Hi, my name is Tomas, how may I help you?"
Cutting Through the Clutter
Tomas asked me a series of questions in plain English - what do I usually watch, how far will the TV be from the couch, do I play games, etc. He quickly narrowed it down to two options - a Sony and a Samsung. It gave rise to a new dilemma - I liked the picture quality of the Sony, but the UI sucked big time - it was laggy and non-intuitive. The Samsung had better UI, but I didn't care as much for the picture quality. Now what?
Tomas to the Rescue
Tomas was able to size up the situation, and offered me a solution that was the best of both worlds - a Sony TV with a Roku box that would bypass the TV's built in UI. It was already sounding like a win, but then he revealed a feature that made me whip out my credit card faster than the speed of sound - the Roku remote had a headphone jack, and was capable of wirelessly receiving the TV's audio signal. At this point, if you are a parent living in a smallish apartment, you are with me. For the rest of you, the wireless headphone system allows me to crank up the volume without waking up my 5 year old son at night. No more watching Netflix with subtitles!
Moral of the Story
Tomas revealed to me that he owns the same Roku box, which is why he knew of that feature. He was a user in addition to being a sales person. It occurred to me that the best Pre-Sales Engineers I had worked with were intimately familiar with obscure capabilities of a product because they had actually used the product themselves - either in the real world or in the lab. They did not rely solely on the marketing brochure. It allowed them to size up a prospect's unmet needs (even if they were not explicitly stated) and make relevant recommendations that helped close the deal.
Meanwhile, the TV is working out great, but for the first time I noticed the excellent sound design on Chef's Table, one of my favorite Netflix shows.