What is a “kill sheet” and why you need one.

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One of the great sales tools introduced to me at my former company PMI (a Seattle water bottle and coffee mug company) was a Kill Sheet. Imagine a grid with your product features and benefits highlighted to show where you win against key competitors across meaningful features and benefits.

I’ve created a simple example of a kill sheet I would create if I were going into a convenience store to sell my favorite Kombucha brand: Humm. I know from talking with the folks at Humm that they are positioning the brand as a healthier, more unique alternative to soda (a declining category). This is a distinct alternative to competing in the natural co-op driven kombucha universe. Therefore in my Humm kill sheet I included a sugary Pepsi rather than a myriad of organic kombucha alternatives where comparison points would focus on B-vitamins and out “raw-ing” each other.

I’ve been in several buyer presentations at Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, Amazon and Costco where this tool helped us get to “yes.” Here’s why/how it works:

  • Declares your white space / competitive set: Showing your product against select competitive product helps demonstrate to a buyer where you intend to play (and win).

  • Demonstrates your point of difference: When properly done, a kill sheet shows clear advantage for your product amongst a key competitive set while presenting objective data to help the buyer understand the landscape.

  • Shows credibility: Showing key data such as price points, specs and features shows the buyer that you have done your homework so they don’t have to. I’ve seen buyers quickly review the kill sheet we prepared and visibly relax and focus on our sales pitch once she saw that the information was accurate.

  • Let’s you define point of parity / point of difference: You get to choose the battle lines on a kill sheet. Is your target customer looking for premium? Then don’t show price. Is taste important? Then show consumer taste ratings.

There’s an art to this. A great kill sheet will strike the balance of shaping the story to play to your key point of difference without showing a totally biased position. Follow-up slides should back up why your features are more important to your target consumer in the form of consumer validation.

Make sense? Great. Now here’s the most important part: Do the kill sheet BEFORE you develop your product.

Todd OlsenComment