Competing for Attention
We all clearly understand how the balance of power has shifted significantly in the last decade from seller to buyer, driven by the power of information and knowledge.
To compound that power shift, we know that our buyers are being bombarded with more sales and marketing messages than ever before. According to a recent Facebook study, the more devices owned, the more consumers are likely to switch between them.
The study found that 53 percent of people who own 2 devices switch between them to complete tasks and 77 percent of people who have 3 devices do the same. This correlates with Microsoft’s claim that the average person’s attention span is now just eight seconds.
What does this mean? Well, for senior executives, meeting times are getting shorter, especially higher in organizations. Often times, first phone conversations are set for only 10 to 15 minutes.
Earn The Spotlight
The good news is while everyday there are many salespeople vying for your customers’ attention, very few salespeople are doing it well. The mission? How does a salesperson cut through all the clutter to not only become relevant, but to get noticed?
Two of my favorite comedians can enlighten us. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld once said, “This whole idea of an attention span is, I think, a misnomer. People have an infinite attention span if you are entertaining them.” Fellow comic Steve Martin offered a similar sentiment, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.”
What can salespeople do to be that good? Follow these five guidelines so your customers will not be able to ignore you.
1. Do the Preparation
Sir Winston Churchill is credited for finishing a letter with the following phrase, "I apologize for my long letter, if I had more time, I would have written you a shorter letter.” Having coached thousands of people, I am still disappointed about how little salespeople prepare. With the importance of making connections more quickly, messages need to be well prepared and rehearsed.
I use the “rule of 4 and 8.” For meetings of more than 1 hour, I use a rule of 4 and for meetings of 1 hour or less, I use a” rule of 8.” If I have an important meeting of 30 minutes, I need 4 hours to properly prepare, 8 times the 30-minute meeting. The preparation will be split into 3 areas of focus;
- Researching the people attending the meeting. This includes their business background, their likely social style, personal agendas, and business priorities.
- Preparing my presentation material and scripting, including what questions they may have.
- Practicing my delivery!
And do not forget to prepare for what could go possibly wrong!
2. Deliver Your Message
Salespeople need to generate simpler messages. How can you best do this? By communicating those messages in a distinct way and adapting those messages to each client context. That means making them more visual, emotional, and engaging. Reflect on what Steve Martin and Jerry Seinfeld said above.
Remember that your spoken word is only 20% of the message. To assist in your spoken word, create sound bites, which are memorable and repeatable to gain traction around your idea. You must also pay attention to the message your appearance, facial expressions, body language, and style of engagement create.
If the average person’s attention span is indeed 8 seconds, that is exactly how long you have to gain their approval to truly engage with you. You want them to think, “I feel that this person’s message is credible enough AND they are authentic enough for me to truly engage in a conversation with them.”
3. Have a Point of View
I will say this as direct as I can…please DO NOT use sales training 101 techniques if you have been in sales more than a couple of years. Do not sit in front of a potential client and ask them about their problems! Your potential client will immediately put you in the same bucket as every other B-class salesperson. You risk falling into the “get rid of them as fast as I can and never see them again” bucket.
Your potential client has agreed to meet with you for only one reason, because they are expecting you to bring some new thinking, or as we say, thought leadership. After all, that is the first thing we have to sell since they can find out all about us and our products/services from their own sources.
As a coach, I often say, “Do not go to a meeting with a new potential client without a strong point of view on something!!”
4. Enable Emotion
Most salespeople, I dread to say, still rely on logic to try to change a person’s motivation to buy. They think, “If I have the best product or service for the best price, they would be crazy not to buy it, right?”
While this can be frustrating, emotions act as a powerful ally in steering people to the decision you want. To be frank, without emotion, people would be incapable of making any decision, let alone a logical one. Emotions are essentially shortcuts built by the brain to generate a feeling on a certain subject, which then guides decisions and actions. Entertainment, emotion, and engagement all go hand-in-hand.
The most engaging dramas - be they cinematic, theatrical or literary - tend to be predicated on some sort of emotional rollercoaster that turns from scene to scene: love/hate, up/down, or problem/resolution. As a salesperson, you are there to tell your story, your vision, to engage, inspire, disturb, and excite!
5. Be Your Authentic Self!!
Busy executives have no patience for engaging with salespeople when they feel they are being “sold to.” Be authentic!
Get rid of overly salesy language. Why do salespeople change the way they talk when on a sales call? Be yourself, let your personality shine and engage as an equal.
Do not be freaked out by titles; they are just people with their own personal issues and failings. Do not think of it as a meeting, but rather as a conversation about something you are so excited about that you want to share that excitement.
Something like, “Hey, I have a point of view on this and I’d like to get your perspective to see if we both think it is worthy of further investigation.”
Lastly, have fun and enjoy yourself in the wonderful world of selling.
Do you find yourself being beat out by your competition more often than not? It could be that you are not making yourself memorable enough to potential clients. In your next sales meeting, keep these 5 guidelines in mind. Write them down and think about how you will apply them in your meeting. After the meeting, reflect on the 5 guidelines. Did you do them?