Selling Simplified 6 - Text
Selling Simplified was written and recorded primarily to help my advertising sales representatives improve their sales and persuasion skill set. That having been said, most of what follows is easily transferred to any sales or persuasion situation.
There are essentially two basic forms of advertising: direct response and institutional. The purpose of direct response advertising is to generate business, now. “Fifty percent off/today only”, is a form of direct response advertising. All coupon ads are direct response. Its focus is on short-term immediate results. Institutional advertising can also generate immediate business, but, by it's very nature, institutional advertising's greatest impact is mid to long term. Its primary benefit derives from the image-building characteristic inherent in institutional advertising.
What makes direct response work is the amount of the discount. What makes institutional advertising work is the repetitive nature of the ad. Many advertisers use both and combine both in the same ad. Institutional advertising is far and away the most frequently used. In fact, direct response advertising obviously includes the exposure aspect that is commonly associated with institutional advertising. Not all businesses lend themselves well to direct response. If you are in the insurance business how effective will a coupon be?
There are essentially two philosophies practiced by institutional advertisers. They try to make either a big splash all at once or to build name recognition over time with small but repetitively consistent ads. Unfortunately, unless you are a fortune five hundred company you are not in a position to take a full page ad in every major daily or to buy million dollar spots on the super bowl to make a big splash.
In fact, if you owned a business which had only five thousand dollars in the annual ad budget and a full page ad in the local daily newspaper was five thousand dollars, the worst thing you could do is spend it all on that one full page ad. Big splashes only makes sense if you have lots of money in the ad budget. You don't put all your eggs in one basket. Even if the newspaper's circulation is one hundred thousand a day, it is still a poor use of the ad budget because not all one hundred thousand people will see the ad. Nobody but an ad sales person looks at all the ads (it’s part of our “prospecting”).
Even if everyone who received the paper that one day you advertised just happened to turn to the page that had your ad, it would not have nearly as much impact as an ad that is seen over and over, day after day. This is true even if the ad with repetitive exposure was much smaller and was seen by a far smaller number of people.
It has been said that the average American will be exposed to over twenty five hundred brand names in a day. For a customer to remember a particular business requires that she see it many times. Rule number two in advertising is: the more repetitive the ad the more likely it will work. Constant, repetitious exposure is the key to successful advertising. That's the theory behind a logo. The more a person sees a logo, the more familiar they become with it and most people like to do business with businesses with whom they are familiar.
Advertising works best when it is repetitive, when people see it over and over. If you insist on spending your entire ad budget in the newspaper, you would be better off to spend that five thousand dollars in a three or four line classified ad that runs everyday of the year.
The size of the ad is much less significant then the number of exposures on the ad. Most people need to see a TV commercial five to seven times before they know what the advertiser is trying to sell them. If a business can't afford to advertise in a media regularly they are better off not advertising in it at all. A full page ad might look great, make a big splash, but it's more of an ego stroke than a strategic advertising policy.
I remember selling the Gillette account by responding to the ad director’s objection that our circulation was too small by asking: which do you think would be more effective, one hundred thousand people seeing your ad once or ten thousand people seeing your ad ten times. Both ads provide one hundred thousand exposures, but only one offers repetitive exposures. He quickly saw my point.
Multiple exposures to the same people, that's the key because it's based on the oldest learning technique there is: repetition. It is how humans learn and it is also how and why we buy. Remember the three r's of advertising: repetition brings recognition which spreads your reputation.
Advertisers advertise because they need customers and they are intelligent enough to know they have to keep their name out in front of the public all the time to attract the customers they need. Out of sight, is out of mind. Businesses who advertise are what we are looking for in our prospecting. We don't waste our time trying to sell an ad to the business owner who hasn't advertised since the grand opening forty years ago. If you want to educate non-advertisers about the virtues of advertising, write a book for them. If you want to sell ads in the most efficient manner possible, forget the non-advertiser and look for advertisers who advertise.
Those who never advertise are telling us they don't understand the value of advertising. Those that do advertise are telling us they like to advertise. This is perhaps the greatest advantage prospecting offers over cold calling for the ad sales professional.
But, whether prospecting or cold calling, naturally you complete the first step in finding people to sell before going to the second. Regardless of what you are selling, this same principle applies. The first step is to identify those who need your product or service. Once you know who needs what you sell, your second step is to make your initial contact to ask the prospect your introductory questions.
Your first introductory question is designed to make sure you are talking with the decision maker. In your first step you identified a company that needs your service, but you don't want to devote your precious time presenting your program only to find out the person is not the one who makes the final decision. We need to be sure we are talking with the right person. Sometimes it is easy to be fooled because owners or decision makers don't always turn out looking like what we expect. It's a bit like the shock we get sometimes when we match a face with the fantastic voice we have been hearing on our favorite radio program.
This reminds me of a near death experience one of my brothers in law had some years back. I have five sisters and two brothers and my oldest sister Eva married Nathaniel snow, her high school sweetheart. Nat is a wonderful, hardworking guy that faithfully set aside his personal desires for most of his adult life to provide for Eva and their beautiful four children. When only one child was still living at home Nat came into a small inheritance. Since they had never really gone into debt for anything other then their home, he suddenly found himself with the unusual opportunity to buy something for himself without putting a strain on the family budget.
As a teenager he had come to love the thrill of riding a motorcycle so he decided to buy a Honda Gold Wing touring bike. One day while cruising down the road he was forced into a ditch and was out cold for several minutes. The first person he saw when he came too was an off duty African American fire man who happened to be driving by just as Nat went sailing so ungracefully through the air. As Nat came too he was so dazed and dumbfounded, staring into the face of the fireman, what came out of his my was “My God”. The fireman said: “Bet you never thought God was black!”
The owner identification question.
Naturally, that got quite a laugh out of everyone crowded around Nat. But mistaken identity in sales is not a laughing matter. Presenting your story to the wrong person will cost you a lot of wasted time. To be sure the person you are talking with is in fact the owner; a good initial contact question to ask is what I call the owner identification question. If you have called the business on the phone, you simply ask: “is the owner in”? Or sometimes I will ask: who would I need to talk to about advertising, who handles the advertising?
The Rhetorical Question.
Once I have the right person I proceed with the rhetorical question: “would you consider advertising with us if you felt it would benefit your business?” If the response is "yes", I’ll continue with the qualifying question: “after you see it, if you like it and feel it meets all of your needs are you personally in a position to give a go ahead decision today and would you be willing to do so?” This question is also referred to as the qualifier and there is a whole section on this very important subject up ahead.
Perhaps I should point out that all of the initial contact questions can be asked either in person or over the telephone. The cold calling sales professional will of course ask the introductory questions in person while the more methodical sales professional will probably ask the same questions on the telephone. Which approach is utilized is a matter of personal choice.
In either case the goal is the same: to complete the "finding people to sell" half of the selling process.
A note of caution here, under no circumstances do you present your program to anyone other then the decision maker. This would be a waste of time and a true professional doesn't waste time. Once you have an affirmative response to the qualifier, you have successfully completed the first half of the selling process, you have found someone to sell and you are now almost ready to begin the second half of the selling process, i.e. selling the person you have found.
Getting The Appointment With The Right Person.
Whether you have cold called the owner or are talking with him on the telephone you need to secure permission to tell your story before just launching into your presentation. You need to get the appointment. If you are right there with the owner you might say, "Do you have five minutes to take a look at what we are doing or would it be better for me to make an appointment?" If you have called the owner, you could say: “of course I am not trying to sell you anything on the phone sight unseen. I figured I would call you, tell you about it and then come by and show it to you. Is that fair enough?”
I walked into First Security Insurance in Hickory North Carolina one afternoon. I had just sold an ad and my next appointment was not for another forty minutes. I knew C. David Rockett managed the branch. The receptionist asked if she could help me and I said “I’m John McIntosh I do not have an appointment with Mr. Rockett, but I would love to ask him just one question. Would you ask if he would see me?”
She got on the phone and said “Mr. John McIntosh is here and would like to see you, are you available?” The receptionist put her hand over the phone turned to me and said: “he wants to know what it's about.” I said, “can I speak to him please?” She handed me the phone and I said, “Mr. Rockett forgive me sir, I realize you are a professional and probably work only by appointment, but would you mind if I ask you just one question?” He said, “go ahead, but please make it quick I’ve got a pile of paperwork on this desk to go through before we close.”
Not asking for what we want generally has very predictable results, we fail to get what we want. The Bible teaches that we “have not because we ask not.” James 4:2.
It reminds me of Toshi, the Japanese exchange student who came to live in my home as a sophomore and my former High School graduated him. Toshi went on to do post graduate work at Stanford and now heads up the molecular biology department at a major university. He is one of the most brilliant individuals I have had the pleasure of knowing.
Academically, he was head and shoulders over his American peers. But he would be the first to admit he needed help in the social sphere. At his undergraduate graduation party, after the freshly minted BA’s had tossed their caps in the air, Joy (a fellow graduate) asked him what he thought about dating American woman.
He had to confess he had not dated any. Joy incredulously asked "Why not?" Toshi said, "Because I could never find one to ask". Joy responded: "You could have asked me".
Toshi could never quite build up enough courage to ask for a date. Many sales people suffer from a similar reluctance to ask for the order. I remember training a former pastor in Easily SC, we sat down with acustomer and Mike gave a great presentation. He asked if the customer liked the concept just as I had trained him. But when the customer said, "Yes, I love it", instead of closing the sale Mike went right back into the selling mode.
Mike kept reiterating some of the same things he had already covered. This went on for about five minutes. I was going nuts inside. I kept saying in my head; ask for the order, close the sale, what are you beating around the bush for? Finally out of exasperation I had to interject before he completely lost the sale.
The point I’m making is: don't be afraid to ask for the order. You cannot close the sale unless you ask for the order. And of course I don't mean you should follow up your presentation with: "Well do you won't it or don't you?" That would not be assuming the sale.
Assume the customer is intelligent enough to want to buy what you are selling and use the three essential closes as a way of asking for the order and completing the sale without actually asking for a “Yes” or “No”.
The three essential closes are: the initiating close, the alternate choice close and the conditional close. In advertising, the initiating close is commonly referred to as the copy close. The copy close, like all initiating closes, is used to initiate the actual closing phase of the selling process.
The alternate choice is used to move the closing phase along; and the conditional close is used to overcome any final obstacles to closing the sale. Collectively, these three closes start the close, move the close along and finish the close. This is what we do whenever we do anything in life. We first start it, move it along and finally, we finish it.
In advertising sales we initiate or start the close with the copy close. You will hear the copy close referred to many times in this here because it is the “close” most frequently used by advertising sales professionals at our first real attempt to consummate the sale.
However, it is fundamentally important that you understand you do not initiate the close, you do not use the copy close, until the buyer has responded positively to the concept question. Having finished the presentation, or if the customer has given you a strong buying sign, such as: where is the six hundred dollar ad you mentioned on the phone? You will ask: “Do you like the concept?” When the customer says" Yes I do. Then you initiate the close with the copy close, and it goes like this:
“Do you have a business card, yellow pages ad or an ad you have used recently, I need to see what kind of image you try to project to your potential customers.” While the customer is looking for a sample ad he or she has used, you take out a copy form and when you have the sample ad in your hands, you move the closing phase along by asking a series of alternate choice questions as you design the ad and it goes like this:
“I assume this is your logo. Do you think the logo would work best on the left, right side or how about the top center of the ad?” If the advertiser has no logo, no problem, just say: “For the name of your business, do you want to use the same typeface you used in this other ad or would you like us to pick another?” “Do you want bold print or italics?” “Do you want the telephone number larger then the address or the same point size?” We use these simple alternate choice questions as an effective way to move the close along.
Occasionally you'll be working with a business that does not produce ad copy when you ask them to. If it's a new business, perhaps they have not run any ads. If it is an existing business, they may not be producing an old ad for you because they are not completely sold on the idea yet. In either case, don't let it rattle you to the point where it becomes a roadblock to making the sale. Simply say, “You know sir; there are three things that all effective ads have in common. First: the basics, which include the name of the business, the address and the phone number. And of course if you are in the kind of business where people usually call as opposed to just walking in, then you want to make the phone number larger so they don't have to hunt for it.”
“The second essential item for an effective ad is something that is eye catching. Like a logo, or some clip art or maybe bold or reverse type. And the final ingredient in a good ad is either a list of your services or, preferably, the reason why a customer should buy from you instead of your competition. Now, while your thinking about what sets you apart from your competition, let me get started with the basics. Let's see, would you like to place the name of the business on the left, right side or how about the middle?”
Can you see what this has accomplished? You have effectively moved around a potential roadblock. You stayed on target with a series of alternate choice questions designed to move the sale along. Don't let anything stop the closing process unless the customer plainly says: “Stop!
Assume The Sale.
You do not stop closing unless told to do so in very plain language because your assumption is that this customer wants to buy what you are selling. I hope you noticed that underlying both of the above scenarios, there was a strong assumption that they were going to buy. From your very first contact with the customer you should assume they want to buy what you are offering.
All that you do should convey this assumption to the buyer. You are a professional and would not be wasting your time trying to sell to someone who does not need what you sell. If everything you do while in contact with the buyer could be pictured within a circle those activities in the circle would be labeled: "assume the sale". Believe me; if they think they don't want it, they will let you know. You don't have to say "No" for the buyer.
If the buyer does stop you, it is then that you will use the conditional close to overcome their reluctance. But, first you must identify exactly what it is that is causing the reluctance. When the copy close or alternate choice questions are met with resistance, you can find out why they are not going ahead with it by simply asking: “There must be some reason you are hesitating, would you mind telling me just what that reason might be?”
What ever the reason given it will always fall into one of two categories; it is either a condition or an objection. Remember now, a condition is something that you can't overcome. For example: they're going out of business, they really don't have the money, or the person you are talking with is not the decision maker. Can you do anything about this type of problem? Of course not. You can't print money and you are wasting your time if you are trying to solve problems that are impossible for you to solve. Move on.
Now objections are problems you can do something about. Often, an objection is nothing more than an excuse for not going ahead with the purchase. Someone once said “an excuse is the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie”. Why wouldn't someone who needs what you are selling, buy it? Why, because they don't see how it will solve their problem, they may not even know they have a problem, or they may think they can't afford it.
Sometimes objections are just another way of telling you that you have not yet sold them on the concept. In any case, objections are always bad news. The good news is that most people are not very original in coming up with objections and in a short period of time you will be familiar with all of them and will know how to overcome most of them most of the time.
It may help you to overcome objections if you think of them as problems and you are the problem solver. One man's problem is another's opportunity. We are never gleeful that someone has a problem. But we can take pride in knowing we have the right solution at the right time at the right price. The Beatle, John Lennon, said “There are no problems only solutions”. If you have the right solution you will have the sale, provided you apply these techniques.
It will also help you overcome objections if you remember what I said about the two fundamental factors. Do you remember I said: “When it comes to selling there are only two factors to deal with: the product and the price, the cost or the concept.” Since there are only two fundamental factors in selling, if the buyer is raising an objection to making the purchase, then the objection must be either about the product or about the price.
Either the reluctant buyer doesn't understand the concept or, if it has to do with price, the buyer either doesn't believe it is worth the price you are asking, can't afford to pay the price you are asking or is the type of person that automatically looks for a price concession whenever buying anything.
If you don't listen carefully when an objection is given, you may assign it to the wrong category and, consequently, you probably won't overcome it. Listen attentively and you'll know if the objection is about the product or about the price.
Remember, you are the problem solver. Can you solve a problem before it is identified? Now, if the objection is about the product, you should know by now that your presentation is not over. You need to shift out of the closing phase back into the demonstration phase. Even though the customer responded positively to the concept question, if the objection is about the product, then the customer obviously is not completely sold on the concept.
Continue emphasizing the features, advantages and benefits perhaps by using a summary closes or by reading testimonial letters, or by asking probing questions to find out what the buyer missed during the demonstration. When the objection is about the product the customer is essentially telling you that he does not see "what's in it for him" (remember radio station WIIFM). Customers must see how your product or service meets their needs if you are going to make a sale.
More often then not, that final objection will be about price. The conditional close is the last of the three essential closes and it is the most effective way to overcome the price objection. It is called the conditional close because it is always couched in "If I could would you" language. For example: if the customer has said "It is too expensive", your conditional close could go like this: “If I could save you a substantial amount off the regular price would you go ahead today?” If the customer asks “What do you call ‘substantial”, you are heading in the right direction.
The Three Faces Of Price.
When the customer raises the price objection, you need to be aware that the price objection can have three different faces. It's imperative you know which one you are looking at if you are going to close the sale. If the buyer doesn't believe the product is worth the price, or doesn't see how it will benefit her, you may still be dealing with a concept problem. You're not really in the closing phase yet, you are still in the presentation or demonstration stage.
As you demonstrate what the product can do for the buyer you're goal is to raise the buyer's estimation of the value of the program up to the price you are asking. The customer is always going to be interested in what is in it for him. In trying to raise the valuation of the program you need to focus on what they will get in return for their investment. We call this: “selling value or selling quality” and there is a lot of material up ahead on this topic. If you fail to raise the buyer's estimation of the value of the product up to the price you are asking, you will have to lower the price down to meet the buyer's estimation if you are going to close the sale.
In advertising sales, when I sell value I will generally demonstrate what the ad will do for the customer by showing how the ad will bring new customers. I discuss this at length up ahead where I talk about the value of one good customer. When selling value you are trying to point out that the buyer is better off with the product then without it.
Once the buyer understands how she benefits from the product and agrees that she likes the concept, at that point all remaining objections would have to be about price. When this is the case, the price objection will mean, either the buyer genuinely cannot afford to pay the full price or the buyer just won't pay the full price. In either case, a price concession presented in conditional language may be the only way you can make the sale.