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Do you sometimes struggle to get your message across to a prospective client? You know that what you have to offer is exactly what the prospect needs, but the more you try to make your point, the more you realize that the prospect is tuned to a different wavelength. You cover the main points…highlight key concepts…point out major advantages, but the prospect just doesn’t seem to get it.

Been there?

The problem, most likely, isn’t your product or service—it’s your message.

Frequently, salespeople get too wrapped up in their products and services—the revolutionary processes, innovative features, latest technologies, highest efficiencies, proven and documented results, and so on. And because of that, they talk about the elements that they feel are important…that they value…that they consider priorities…that they believe sets their product or service apart from their competitors.

They forget that prospects don’t really care about what salespeople think, feel, or believe. Prospects have their own values and priorities and associated thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.

The key to getting prospects to tune-in to your message and "get it" is to first find out what their values and priorities are. Then, and only then, can you develop and deliver a message that is relevant and meaningful to them—that is on their wavelength.

Here’s an example:

Jim sells advertising in a "concierge" booklet that is given to guests during check-in at upscale hotels. The booklet features various businesses and attractions that might be of interest to the guests. The advertising company’s "official" pitch to prospective advertisers revolves around the number of guests the hotels have each month…and the corresponding number of potential "exposures" that number represents. An exposure, by the way, is a number determined by a complicated formula understood by advertising people, but of little interest to the average beauty salon, restaurant, or jewelry store owner.

When Jim began working for the company, he delivered the official company pitch as directed—noting the hotels’ guest numbers, length of stay statistics, and exposures—all of which (as you might imagine) were coldly received by prospects. Nonetheless, he did his best to stay on script and keep improvisations to a minimum. By doing so, he closed about 40 – 50% of the businesses with whom he scheduled appointments—which was on par with the results of the top salespeople in other territories.

However, Jim sensed that his closing percentage could be better. To find out how to make it better, he went "off script" with the next few prospects. He presented the booklet as he normally did, but rather than present the hotel guest "statistics," he simply asked the prospects, "Why would you advertise in a booklet like this?" or "What benefit might there be for you to advertise in this booklet?" and then he listened carefully. The responses were remarkably similar and revolved around the concept of attracting potential customers who might not find the business through more traditional advertising.

While the number of "exposures" was important to the advertising company…and reflected a priority it attached to determining the potential effectiveness of an advertising medium, it had little value to the prospective advertisers. To them, numbers were just numbers. The idea of putting their names directly in the hands of potential customers was more important than the number of guests who checked into the hotel each month. And, it was certainly more important than trying to understand the concept of an "exposure."

Jim changed his "pitch" to reflect the values of the prospective advertisers. He led with the concept of "putting your name in the hands of potential customers who might not otherwise find you" and used the numbers (sparingly) to reinforce the concept. It was a subtle change, but it made a dramatic difference: Jim’s closing percentage increased to 75+%.

Jim discovered what prospective advertisers wanted; he presented his product in a manner that reflected their values; and he closed more sales. It couldn’t get much easier than that.

- Karen James

 

 

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