Tag Archive for sales pitch

How You Say It May Make a Big Difference

To continue with our ideas about building confidence, BNET summarized an interview about building self-confidence and authority during presentations. The idea is that expansive poses (arms wide apart) practiced over a two-minute period before a presentation stimulates higher levels of testosterone, the dominance hormone, and lower levels of cortisol, the hormone associated with stress. Poses, such as crossing your arms make us look smaller, weaker.

A supporting idea is the act of physically occupying more space conveys many of the same benefits. Similarly, we work with our customers to help them use the largest format possible while respecting financial constraints to make the most confident statement. This really makes sense when we compare postcards of different sizes and how they look in a mailbox.

We usually respond positively to confident speakers and find them more believable and credible. How can we help you translate your great speaking skills and presentation to your marketing and mailing?

How to Get “No” for an Answer

The Harvard Business Review offered this advice in its “Management Tip of The Day”.

When making a sales or other pitch, no one wants to hear no. In the absence of a yes, you may think that maybe is preferable. But when maybe is a long prelude to no, it can be a waste of time and resources. It’s better to hear no sooner rather than later. Here are three steps to driving a decision:

1.      Be clear about your request. People often say maybe because they are confused about what you’re asking of them.

2.      Set a deadline. When meeting a prospective investor, buyer, or customer, explain when you need a decision. A deadline can yield a quicker yes or no.

3.      Know when silence means no. People hate to say no as much as you hate to hear it. When you sense that your audience is going to say no, but hasn’t built up the courage to express it, provide an out. Something as simple as, “I assume it’s a pass for now?” can help the other party be definitive about its decision.

Too Much Contact to Businesses Can Hurt

The Harvard Business Review featured some results from a McKinsey & Company study that found that the “most destructive” failures of business-to-business sales reps are too much contact with customers (35%). Customers want to be contacted, not bombarded. The upside of getting things right is significant: A primary supplier perceived as having a high-performing sales force can boost its share of a customer’s business by 8 to 15 percentage points.

Chart of Ways Customers Are Turned Off

The methods of “bombardment” are in person, by phone or via email. Postal mail is not listed. Use direct mail to stay in touch with business customers without making them feel inundated.

Tips for Giving Advice

What is the best way to give advice and feedback? Why do you want to get better at the art of giving good, old-fashioned advice. It is less about the quality of advice and more about the way it’s delivered. The way advice is given can inadvertently increase the receiver’s resistance to hearing it or acting on it, which is a shame, because that undoes the best of intentions. You want the advisee to come away with good advice, rather than bad feelings about the advisor. A post on BNET offered four tips on how to give advice well.

  1. There is a difference between solicited and unsolicited advice. Both are fine ways to be helpful, but remember that the unsolicited variety may not always be welcome, so the recipient might be more vulnerable to a bruised ego if you push the advice too far.
  2. Say thank you first. This applies to solicited advice. Before offering any of your wisdom, express some gratitude for being asked. After all, it’s flattering to be seen as wise and helpful. We don’t know anyone who doesn’t like being asked for advice. In fact, doing so is one of the best ways to deepen a relationship, because it’s a mutually gratifying human interaction and flattering without being obsequious.
  3. Make sure you understand the limits of the question. There’s nothing more annoying than asking for advice on one thing (like “What do I need to do to get a promotion?”) and getting advice on your marriage and your vacations plans, with a few golf tips thrown in. Stick to the subject at hand, unless somehow there’s a connection.
  4. Be confident, but not arrogant. This distinction is blurry for some. There really is a difference between coming across as authoritative (presumably the solicitor wouldn’t be seeking your advice if they didn’t think you knew your stuff) as opposed to authoritarian (using your power to compel someone to follow your advice, or being pathologically certain that you’re always right). Being authoritative can be done with humility, like saying “I’ve seen a lot of situations like this, and I’m concerned”. An authoritarian way of giving the same advice might be, “Look, you have to do this now, or I’ll do it for you.” The latter is obnoxious, off-putting, and not helpful.
  5. Give the recipient an “out”. This is related to No. 4. While there’s plenty of room for passion in the giving advice, a bit of humility also helps. You can say, for instance, that you’ve seen such-and-such approach work for yourself and for others, but it might not be for everybody. Or you can preface it with a turn of phrase like, “I’m not sure about this, but I think you could benefit from doing x, y, and z.” Or my personal favorite: “Have you considered…?”
  6. After giving advice, ask how it sounds. Often the best advice is created in an iterative way, rather than being delivered from on high. So after you’re done expounding, ask the recipient if that makes sense, or how they might feel about acting on your advice. Their reactions can help you refine it together and make it even more meaningful.
  7. Ask for follow-up. Not only does it show you care if you ask your advice-seeker to let you know how it goes, but it also conveys that you have a stake in giving good advice. Whether or not they take you up on the offer, it will leave them feeling even better about you and more confident in acting on what you’ve shared.

Giving advice is one of life’s great gifts, especially when it turns out that we were right. We are also grateful for all the good advice we’ve received over the years.

Feature the Flaw

Scott Anthony recently wrote a post for the Harvard Business Review on disruptive innovation.

Turning a flaw into a feature is a time honored tradition in the software industry. “It’s not a bug, it’s a feature” dates back at least to the mid-’80s. Turning bugs into features is also a critical skill of the would-be disruptive innovator.

The heart of disruptive innovation is the intentional trade-off — sacrificing raw performance in the name of simplicity, convenience, or affordability. The trick is finding the customer who embraces this trade-off because they consider existing solutions to be too expensive or too complicated.

In other words, disruption is almost always a strategic choice. Companies with a would-be disruption on their hands have to carefully consider their target customer.

Consider, for example, what would have happened if Procter & Gamble had tried to sell its Swiffer line of quick cleaning products to people obsessed with deep cleaning. Those consumers would have looked at a product designed to clean without sweating as inferior. In fact, Swiffer initially struggled in markets like Italy where consumers considered sweating an integral part of the cleaning process!

Instead, P&G sought customers who embraced simplicity, because often their choice wasn’t a deep clean or a quick clean, it was a quick clean or no clean at all. The “flaw” of light cleaning was a “feature” to the simplicity seekers.

Featuring the flaw often requires looking at markets in new ways and finding seemingly invisible customers. Some simple questions to use to guide thinking include:

  • What are the competitive alternatives to your idea?
  • Where are you better?
  • Where are you worse?
  • Are there people who consider existing alternatives out of reach?
  • Are there circumstances where using existing alternatives problematic?

The next time someone tells you to a fix a potential flaw in your idea, flip the problem on its head by seeking a customer that would consider the flaw a feature. Does this spark any ideas for your marketing? Is there something about your product or service that you can turn into a great feature?

E-Mail Open Rates

This subject line, “Study: E-mail open and click-through rates up in Q4” from BtoB Magazine has us wondering, is this irrational exuberance? They seem to be ecstatic about open rates of emails being up in the fourth-quarter of last year to 22%, up from 20.9% in the fourth quarter of 2008. The study also found click-through rates were up marginally, from 5.8% to 5.9%.

Can we step back and think about this? This means that 78% of the people on your treasured, valued, opt in list do not even open your message. So that means that 94.1% of those same loved customers or prospects are not going to your landing page, they are not engaging with you, they are not seeing your appealing message. For some reason we hear many people wanting to compare these metrics with response rates for direct mail. What is a positive response for mail? A sale! That would be revenue generated as a result of your customer or prospect receiving information from you.

E-Mail has its place as a part of a larger strategy, but if it is your only method for reaching new customers or reactivating dormant customers, you may miss your potential.

Who Should Be Your Spokesperson?

In a prescient post by Harvard Business Publishing on November 19th of last year. They shared information gathered by an Adweek Media/ Harris Poll that found that among US adults 37% say business leaders, 21% say athletes, 18% say TV or movie stars, 14% say musicians, and 10% say former political figures, make the most persuasive ad pitchmen (or pitchwomen).

Maybe you, as a leader of your company, would make a great spokesperson?

Call us 602-272-2100 to talk to us about some ideas to implement this in your next direct mail piece.

Why Is Direct Mail Effective?

Few other selling tools deliver your message with exact precision and impact. The amount of mail in your mailbox everyday attests to the success of this medium (If it didn’t work, your mailbox would be empty!).

Mail works when you’re not. Regardless of what you’re doing, working or playing your direct mail is talking for you. It gives your best presentation without you being there.

Mail multiplies your efforts. Send out thousands of postcards or letters and your best sales pitch is being presented to thousands of people simultaneously.

Mail allows you to aim with accuracy. Direct mail allows you to pinpoint the people who fit your profile, with as much or as little detail as you want.

Mail makes it easy to track your return on investment. With direct mail marketing you can code your mail pieces to determine the exact number of responses you received from each campaign.

Mail is relatively inexpensive. It is amazing what you can get into a small business size envelope and keep under the one ounce limit. Or you can use a jumbo size postcard and tell your story beautifully.

Mail gets one-on-one attention. One of the best things about direct mail is that it gets one-on-one attention from your target prospect. Direct mail is opened one piece at a time and read one piece at a time.

Mail gets delivered. There are no high tech filters on physical mailboxes. Your recipient will see your name and decide what to do with your message.

Mail is something you can touch and feel—it hangs around. Direct mail is something that you can hold in your hand. It is physical. It is something that can hang around for a period of time. It has “lingering” marketing effects.