In this time of hyper-competition it is more important than ever to connect with your target market effectively and decisively, if you don’t want them to fall into the hands of your competitors.
Less than ten seconds is all the time executives now take before they decide whether a sales rep is worth spending their time with, or not.
Seasoned salespeople tell me that, ten years ago, they used to have 30 minutes, or even longer, to establish rapport with a new Prospect or Buyer. During the 2010s, this time shrank down to just a few minutes. The latest feedback is that this window of opportunity has now shrunk even further and is now down to less than ten seconds.
That’s all the time executives now take before they decide whether a new sales rep is worth spending their time with, or not. This anecdotal evidence is also backed up by research. In fact, the hardest part of the sales cycle now is no longer to close a deal, but to gain traction and engagement with a Prospect in the first place. Or, put another way: While it is easy to reach out to your ideal customers, it is now VERY difficult to draw them into a meaningful sales conversation.”
Further, Sirius Decisions tells us: “The greatest inhibitor to sales effectiveness is the seller’s inability to communicate a VALUE message.”
Add to this Forrester’s research findings, saying that “85 percent of sales interactions fail to meet the expectations of buyers” and you can see how the old linear method of introducing ourselves and our business first, before moving on to our products, services or solutions and related customer pain points, is well and truly passé.
Possessing an effective and professional business introduction that spells out clearly and succinctly the benefits that we bring to our buyers is now more essential than ever. If those benefits are also quantified then that’s even better.
So, why do many businesses and their salespeople turn off their prospects, right from the first contact?
Let me give you a concrete example:
The other day, I was asked by a senior executive in an international technology company to facilitate an introduction to a CMO whom I know personally.
I was happy to make the introduction and asked the executive to send me just a short paragraph with a synopsis on their business for me to make the introduction with. Let’s call them xyz IT Company to protect their true identity.
Here is an anonymized version of what I then received:
“xyz IT Company is a US-based technology company founded in 2013, we provide a cloud-based application, designed for enterprise businesses who are committed to B2B and B2C sales transformation, and interested in automating the preparation of bespoke presentations to increase productivity and drive revenue growth, along with reporting and analytics to surface the most effective presentations.
xyz IT Company integrates deeply with CRM’s, BI tools and any data sources to fuse company data and approved content, delivering a high quality, interactive experience. These automatically generated presentations save a sales (or account management) teams significant preparation time; meaning they can spend longer with their customers and prospects doing what they do best: selling. The presentations themselves are developed as web pages at a slide level, so there’s unlimited flexibility in how content is designed and the way data is visualized.
xyz IT Company currently works with organizations across a range of industry verticals and company sizes, clients such as (customer brands removed) and we’re also in the process of launching pilots with companies such as (brand names withheld).”
Did you understand it? Did you read even past the first paragraph?
I know the company well, but even I couldn’t make sense of their introduction. Now imagine what the poor CMO (whom I was meant to introduce) would have thought both of XYZ Company and of me, as the referrer.
I get it that it is human nature to want to talk about ourselves and our business and how important and great we and our products or services are.
For a quick exercise go to your website and take a good look at the ABOUT US page.
For a quick exercise go to your business website and take a good look at your ABOUT US page. If that web page is really all about you then get it changed. Get it changed to ABOUT WHAT WE DO FOR YOU. Only then will it be more likely to engage buyers.
Let’s see how it looks from the other side.
Just put yourself into your prospects’, clients’ and customers’ shoes and imagine this:
If I were in their position, would I want to hear all about you and your company, how long you have been around, how many employees you have, in how many countries you operate, what products you have and the logos of your customers?
Or, would I first and foremost want to hear what’s in it for me (WIIFM)?
I like to break the process of starting a new business conversation down into three parts:
- Answering WIIFM
- Answering HOW we do it
- Answering where we have done it before
Let me elaborate:
1. Answering WIIFM
If we spell out the exact business benefits in qualitative and quantitative terms then a buyer can decide very quickly whether they are interested in finding out more, or not. After, all for a sales rep it is just as important to qualify a prospects OUT, as it is to qualify them IN. It saves a rep a lot of time NOT to pursue a prospect who is not interested.
2. Answering HOW we do it
Once we have established active interest in our buyer’s mind they will want more information. Information such as how we deliver the benefits, what they need to do from their end to be successful and how our product, service or solution may apply to their business.
3. Answering WHERE we have done it before
So, they know what’s in it for them and how we deliver the outcome. Now, our buyer will want to be assured that this result can also be delivered to their business and that they are not a lab rat or Guinea pig. They want proof that what we can deliver what we promise. So at this 3rd stage they want customer success stories and testimonials.
All the above, however, depends on gaining that buyer’s interest in the first six seconds. So, how is your business introduction doing?