By John Pojeta
I think I’ve had something wrong about sales for a long time. I followed the classic wisdom of playing the numbers when it came to cold leads. If I met with 40 qualified opportunities (prospects that fit my ideal prospect profile), I might close eight.
For the remaining 32, I would follow up with a drip marketing campaign and hope that someday in the future they would think of me and reach back out.
The concept of a drip system — using emails or webinars and perhaps a phone call from time to time — to re-engage prospects who didn’t convert is fine in theory. But I also believe that it can become a sales crutch.
When we have faith in our drip marketing, we may be tempted not to push as hard during the sale. Or we may avoid the more difficult conversations because we know in the back of our minds that we have a system in place to continue marketing to this prospect.
We should not abandon drip marketing. Instead, we should enter a sales conversation with the mindset that it is a unique self-contained opportunity. If we don’t deliver a great sales experience, that’s it. We missed our shot.
I say this because it reframes the moment we should be trying to build for our prospects.
Think of it this way: When you visit Disney World, the big bet is on the experience you have while you are in the park. Disney has an incredible marketing team. They continue to market to guests after they’ve left the park.
But no follow-up call or email will ever be as powerful as the memories that were built in the park itself. If you had a memorable adventure at Disney World, follow-up marketing may give you the idea to go back; but if your time there was lackluster, no amount of drip marketing is likely to convince you to book another trip to see Mickey Mouse.
Prospects either remember the experience fondly or they don’t. It’s that black and white.
Sales in the financial services world are not so different. If a decision-maker takes a meeting with you, they have already done something out of the ordinary. Your high-value prospects already work with someone in your field, and the prospects may not even believe that they need a new solution.
But for one meeting, they committed to hearing what you have to say. They’re stepping into your park and are giving you the chance to be memorable.
Here’s how to build a memorable sales experience that is unique to you, and here are the factors that set you apart from your competition.
1. Hone your message to make it more compelling. The average sales pitch drifts toward a mediocre average. Develop a story about who you are and who you help that rises above simple service promises and speaks to your prospects in a way that engages their emotions.
2. Be bold. Part of creating a memorable sales experience is talking and behaving in a way that your competitors don’t. That doesn’t mean being obnoxious, but it can mean disagreeing with a prospect, standing up for yourself if you aren’t treated as a peer, and embracing difficult conversations instead of shying away from them.
3. Challenge the way your prospect thinks. Many prospects have well-developed perspectives. But if you can make them see something differently, you lay the groundwork for something memorable. Yes, you and the prospects will be uncomfortable for part of that discussion, but if you present your ideas well, your prospects will see you not as a salesperson but as an innovator with worthwhile insights.
4. Be creative with the experience you craft. You don’t need to bring a costumed character to a meeting to stand out. For example, one of our clients mails his prospects copies of his book before his appointment-setters make a call. His prospects remember that he sent them a gift and they take the meeting — perhaps out of an innate sense that a gift warrants reciprocity of some sort. Find places where you can go beyond the status quo to stand out to your prospects.
5. Stop talking so much and ask more questions. Then stay quiet except to ask more questions. We have a desire to keep talking and fill the silence when we should be fully attentive to what the prospect has to say.
6. Finish strong. Part of creating a memorable sales experience is ending on a positive note. This means knowing when to end a meeting and step away, and it also means respecting and keeping time commitments. Build a strong exit into your sales process so that you can withdraw at the right moment instead of overstaying your welcome.
As you reimagine your sales experience, know that you don’t have to innovate at every twist and turn. Being memorable is not about doing everything differently. Instead, it’s about making a few key choices that stand out to your prospects.
To return to our Disney World example, in the book The Power of Moments, the authors tell the story of polling guests throughout their day. When they asked guests at the end of every hour how they rated the last hour, they saw responses like 6.5 out of 10, or seven out of 10. When they switched to asking patrons at the end of the day, they got responses like nine out of 10 or 10 out of 10.
It turned out that guests used a high point during the day and the final moment of the day to assess how they felt about the whole experience.
So, go and build a high point for your prospects and deliver a sales experience that leaves you and your message echoing in their minds and that leads to the next step, whether it’s the next appointment or a signed check.
John Pojeta is the vice president of business development at The PT Services Group. He previously owned and operated an Ameriprise Financial Services franchise for 16 years. John may be contacted at [email protected]