What is the Most Effective Sales Messaging?

You’re in the business of persuasion and influencing. When it comes to those topics there is a whole lot of craziness.

I just went to Amazon. Did you know there are almost 70,000 books on persuasion and influencing? Not only is that overwhelming

But most of it is nonsense.

  • NLP
  • Mirroring
  • Closing techniques
  • Power words
  • The topics are endless.

Certainly they all have value. However while salespeople strain to learn all of these complex ideas, they are missing the big picture. What should be we be doing and saying if we want to successfully influence buyers?

What is the Occam razor that we can use to cut through the cutter?

Sales messages only come in three forms

  1. Features
  2. Benefits
  3. Advantages

Unfortunately most salespeople don’t know the difference between those three things.

I was at a presentation where the speaker become so enthusiastic about his demo that every jot and tittle got discussed. He even said, “if you were a bank you would love this feature” and then to my horror he demoed that feature. The customer was a doctor – not a bank.

Of course the report back to the Sales Manager was that we “hit it out of the park.” Oh, but did the customer buy? No, no he didn’t.

Features are the things your product and service can do.

Benefits are the tangle results that those features produce.

Advantages are the benefits and only those benefits both relevant and desired by the customer.

Take some time and think on the distinctions between features, benefits and advantages. It won’t do you any good or increase your commission checks if you just read these words and fail to act on the message. Advantages seem very close to benefits and benefits are derived from features. However there is a vast difference between them.

Customer’s get bored quickly. There is a small window of time for you to influence them. Remember they are tuned into WIIFM 24×7 – What’s In It For Me.

You probably have a feature rich solution that offers a wide range of benefits to all kinds of markets, businesses and people. However what is the advantage are those things to the person you’re sitting in-front of? Communicate that on every touch point – call, email, voice mail and presentation.

So what are you selling?

  • Do you know what the customer wants or needs?
  • Do you know want is relevant to the customer’s situation?
  • From the long list of feature and benefits of your offering have you whittled your messages down to what is advantageous for that particular buyer?

What it boils down to is knowing your customer and their situation. Period. Then figuring out how you can help.

Strip out everything else.

Please don’t misunderstand me. There are basics that you need to know. Skills that you need to have and be constantly improving

  • Listening
  • Rapport building
  • Use of language (I mean that is how we communicate isn’t it)
  • Conflict resolution
  • Negotiation
Selling Skill resource

The best resource on the basics of influence and persuasion

But those are the basics. After that you must craft Advantage Based Messaging. No more feature selling. No more benefit selling. Only relevant ideas that illustrate and inform your prospects to the advantages they will receive from your product and services.

If you need help in any of those areas I recommend “People Skills” by Robert Bolton. Instead of spending hours reading and studying “People Skills” distills influence down into three key areas: good communication, assertion skills and conflict resolution. An excellent resource everyone should read and apply to their selling.

Advantage Selling

Selling isn’t messaging the sizzle instead of the steak as one very famous author would have you believe. It isn’t about being a “Yes” man and agreeing to everything that comes out of the prospects mouth. Selling certainly isn’t about unrealistic expectations and boastful claims which can never really be accomplished. Leave that to marketing (just kidding all of you marketers out there).

Selling is, as one of my great mentor’s says

Finding out what the customer needs and then filling that need.

Which of course is the short version of messaging with Advantages instead of your product, your solution and all of the wizardry of a particular gadget.

Take the features and benefits of your solution and craft specific advantages for the client and the opportunity you’re selling into.

Make sure that above all else you understand your customer, their situation, and their objectives. This is much more than qualification. Qualification for most companies is about whether or not a prospect can buy. You want to learn if they will buy and if they will buy FROM YOU.

Listen more than you talk. Listen enough and the prospect will tell you how to make your solution relevant to them.

Cut out the clutter.

Message Advantages.

Your competitors aren’t doing that. It takes too much thought and effort. That is how you differentiate yourself and WIN.


Strategy Simplifed Advice from Jack Welch

A couple of guys jumped in their truck and headed to the woods for a good day of hunting. As the truck screeched to a halt on a dusty trail the passenger jumped out. Blam, blam, blam. The sound of his three shots rang out and he said to his friend, “I sure hope something runs into those.”

Ridiculous right? Nobody would hunt that way, right? But how often do we approach selling the same way? How often do we hope that our message will fit some buyer instead of finding out what the market wants and crafting a solution and our selling message to that need?

It comes down to strategy. Oh, not the ‘S’ word. There is no other subject, besides perhaps Cold Calling, that kills a conversation, causes eyes to roll, and quick jerks to the smartphone to avoid further discussion. Jack Welch has a simple answer, one that applies to what you sell, the accounts you manage and the opportunities you should be pursuing. It boils down to this:

How do you intend to win the business?”

Jack Welch says that strategy comes down to that one question: how do you intend to win this business? Never again make a call, an account plan, or a strategy to win a piece of business without first asking yourself how you intend to win. If you don’t know what the customer wants or why they should be buying from you not only are you wasting everyone’s time but you actually have no business working that sale.

You can’t hit a target that you’re not aiming for. Lead Generation, moving a sale from curiosity to close, keeping an account buying all comes down to your answering Mr. Welch’s question. Be the hunter that methodically plans, aims and executes his shots instead of the one hoping some prize will wander into his spent efforts. That is the way you bag big game trophies or in-fact any sales.

Sales Prospecting Techniques that work in the 21st Century

Sales Prospecting Techniques are written about all the time – unfortunately most of what’s said is either outdated or simply wrong. Here is an example of what one famous sales trainer recently wrote,

“When I am working with my coaching clients I find that a lack of consistent sales is caused by a lack of consistent prospecting. A failure to prospect on a regular basis is what causes the feast and famine syndrome of sellers, why one month they earn a great commission check and the next they don’t.”

Sounds right doesn’t it? But is it really? Is it really that simple? Let’s look at the solutions this trainer recommended:

  • Cold calling
  • Direct mail Fax blast (is that even legal?)
  • Voice mails
  • Regular email newsletters
  • Monthly printed newsletters
  • Customer ‘reactivation’ calls
  • Face-to-face door knocking
  • Seminars
  • Sending a catalog of your product listing to your customers
  • Offering a free white paper
  • Website lead generation
  • Offering a free trial
  • Radio, TV, Newspaper, Online, Magazine Advertising

How many of those sales prospecting techniques have worked for you? How many of them work for anyone? In fact how many of them can a customer facing salesperson actually execute on? Advertising? Really. Building a website or holding a seminar? With the demands to hit your numbers, endless paperwork, customer support and the work closing current opportunities do you have time to write a white paper or arrange a conference? This is the kind of sales prospecting techniques that get told to sales people as legitimate advice. And they are all, well, err, how can I put it nicely – nonsense. [Read more...]

Becoming a Thought Leader – EzineArticles

Becoming a though leader for your industry, market and prospects is the fastest way to get more sales. Becoming a sought after expert gets the phone ringing from people that want to buy from you. No other strategy will get you more sales ready leads than establishing your expertise in the minds of your targeted market.

Over 80% of people now find salespeople through word-of-mouth and referrals

Cold calling, direct mail and most of the time consuming efforts salespeople employ to reach new buyers are ineffective today. When a prospect needs something they ask a colleague or peer for a recommendation. Here is a free and effective method for creating your own expert status and becoming known in your industry: publish articles at www.ezinearticles.com

Selling isn’t telling. Selling is an evidence business. Buyer’s want proof that you are a credible and knowledgeable business person that they will benefit from. Establishing your reputation requires proof elements – like published articles, referrals and case studies. A great place to start is by publishing articles on the Internet that you can tell people about. Ezinearticles is one of the largest and most respected article spots on the Web. The best part about Ezinearticles is that it is free.

For an example of how powerful this method is just visit my page at Exinearticles. Here you’ll see the articles I’ve written. Whenever I have a prospect that wants to learn more about me I refer them to that link. They can see if my knowledge and experience matches their needs. Prospects can sample my expertise and know that I can help them. Instead of telling them “hey I know what I’m talking about” I let the credibility of being published and read prove it.

But I Hate to Write

There are two simple solutions if you don’t like to write:

  • Find writers who you can outsource the job to
  • Leverage your company’s materials

Take an ad out on Craig’s list. Call your local community college and find students willing to write for you. These are just two inexpensive ways you can find qualified writers who will do the work for you. Perhaps your spouse or children enjoy writing. Ask them to pitch in. Don’t let the writing part hinder you. Use the whitepapers and other company provided collateral materials as publishable articles. Tweak them for Exinearticles and start getting materials on the Internet.

Sales Prospecting Methods

You can’t sell without having someone to sell to. In a down economy this is especially true. Demand is down, I get it.  However Apple just sold $100 MILLION in iPads. So someone is always buying. You just have to find them using effective and intelligent sales prospecting methods.

Sales Lead Generation and Sales Prospecting is job one.

Of course, when business slows down, what do most sales managers want you to do? M ake more cold calls! However, while cold calling can produce results it is not only ineffective it also drains the energy and life out of most salespeople. I’ve found that cold calling is actually can does more harm than good. Unless you have no other choice never cold call again.

Rather than go into all the reasons cold calling doesn’t work – or at least isn’t a very good use of your time. Let’s talk about what does work today. Recent surveys of executives with purchasing authority reveals that 80% of buyer find their vendors by referrals, word of mouth or by reputation. This means that you need to get the word out about yourself and your company. You need to establish yourself as an expert.

There are many ways of doing this. Write articles, give seminars, become an expert on the problems and the solutions your customers and prospects need. Become the go to salesperson for your area and industry. When you’re knowledgeable and known people will seek you out and take your calls.

Connections are your Big Bang for Sales Prospecting

One major area of lead generation that is given far more lip service than action is using referrals and networking. This doesn’t mean simply hitting your customers up for leads or having coffee at the next Chamber brunch. What this means is getting your customers and prospects talking about you. Contact thought leaders in your market and industry. Start a dialogue with them. Demonstrate how you can be an asset to them. Send them information – not brochures or marketing hype. Keep them up to date on regulatory changes, innovations and topical industry news. Go to the meetings, conferences and trade-shows they attend – not just the ones your competitors go to.

It takes work and effort to become recognized as a resource for prospects and experts in your industry. It also takes having something of value to offer. However the payoff is tremendous and not only for lead generation. Becoming the big fish in a little pond opens doors, gives you credibility and makes the entire selling process easier. While your competitors will be pushing bells and whistles or selling on price, you’ll be the solution expert – a trusted colleague and welcome guest instead of an unwanted pest.

This is intelligent sales prospecting.

However, since most companies still don’t get this concept you are going to have to do the work. Get testimonials from your existing customers. Write case studies – what business was like before buying from you and then after. There are many things a salesperson can’t do – create better company lead generation websites, become experts in social media, and so on. However you can become an expert. Chances are you already are. Now you just have to get the word out.

Create a newsletter and include that with your emails. Instead of the boring Voice Mail messages that never get returned, offer a compelling piece of information about how a similar business has improved their bottom line. Offer industry or product insights that makes the person want to call you back to find out more.

There are many sales prospecting methods that do work with today’s overworked, frazzled and information overloaded buyers. The first step is to remove any hype from your messages, word like best, robust, industry leader and other marketing expressions that everyone uses. These meaningless expressions set off the BS detectors of your prospects. Then establish clear, compelling and powerful value propositions. Tell people what in your solution benefits them. Get that message out in every way you can think of, from phone calls to emails to articles and white papers.

Most companies are simply not going to provide you with enough qualified leads and so it’s up to you to generate them. Intelligent sales prospecting in the new economy means using well thought out efforts of your own to get hot, qualified, ready-to-buy prospects to call you. And if you run your sales prospecting efforts properly you’ll get those leads before your competitors do.

Remember it’s not about being busy, it’s about being effective. Saying “I’ll never cold call again” isn’t enough. You need to replace the less effective techniques that no longer work in today’s new sales environment with strategies and tactics that work. Since 80% of your prospects find out about you from their peers and by reputation you need to start there. Every day take some action that builds your network of contacts and gets them talking about your and your offerings. That is an effective and winning prospecting system.

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  • Is your pipeline full or are you being hammered to find more opportunities?
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  • Are your manager’s phone calls pleasant or full of haranguing to do more cold calling and prospecting?
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