Skip to main content

14 Ways To Make The Sale Instead Of Giving It To The Competition Tip 9: Talk (And Learn) About Your Prospect

By August 8, 2011June 26th, 2015Marketing Insights & Strategy
14 Ways To Make The Sale Instead Of Giving It To The Competition Tip 9: Talk (And Learn) About Your Prospect

Are you one of those rare people who can walk into a room, command the starry-eyed attention of everyone in it, and close the sale at hello?

If so, you are free to stop reading and continue to yacht/parasail/spelunk or whatever it is you lucky people do who don’t have to work much for a living! If, on the other hand, you’re like the rest of us, competing with the next guy in the room, working hard to market, perform and stand out from the crowd, you’re in the right place.

It’s not easy to win a new customer. That’s why so many marketing experts will tell you to fish in the pond you’re already swimming in. It’s easier and cheaper on a cost-per-acquisition basis to re-sell your products or services to an existing customer than to hook a new one.

The good news is that you can stand out from the crowd. It takes time and effort but if you want to grow your business it’s time and effort well spent. And this series is all about how to do that. We touched on the power of personalization when we talked about having a personality but this next tip has more to do with business details rather than personal details.

Tip #9: Talk (And Learn) About Your Prospect

As a professional you know your stuff, and if you’ve met with a couple of prospects you’ve had a chance to hone your presentation skills. But (snore!) nobody wants to hear about you and how great you are all day. In fact, nobody wants to hear about you and how great you are…. at all.

Your window of opportunity to talk about yourself, your services, your experience, your process, your whatever, is very narrow. Sooner rather than later you will start to see that glazed-over, zoned-out look or catch your prospect glancing at his watch. I’ve been there and it’s not fun.

There’s no greater confidence-killer than a bored prospect, especially after you’ve pulled an all-nighter preparing graphs and charts and slides and statistics and all sorts of smart-sounding details that are supposed to be impressive and convincing.

So if you can’t talk about yourself, what are you supposed to talk about? And how can you persuade someone to do business with you if you can’t tell them about your skills and experience?

Talk About “What’s In It For Me?” (And By “Me” I Mean “Them”!)

You’ve probably heard this one before but you’d be surprised by how many people still don’t understand that customers only want you to answer one question: “What’s in it for me?” They might be impressed by your accolades and awards and résumé… for about four seconds.

But what they really want to know is how all those things will translate into a benefit for them. Will your experience help them increase their business sales? How will you make their lives easier/better/more profitable?

The first time I shopped for a financial advisor, I met with a rep who came highly recommended and was sold to me as “a really smart guy”. He seemed like a good bet, so one evening we met in my kitchen where he did indeed regale me with graphs and charts and statistics about savings options. I said “hm” a lot and “oh really?” and “huh” and “is that right?” Mostly I glanced at my watch and wondered what I was missing on TV.

During the course of the conversation he asked what I planned to do in the next five years and where I saw myself at retirement. I brightened a bit at the thought that we were finally getting to the part that mattered to me… namely me… and told him my plans.

That lasted for all of about ten minutes and he was off to the races again giving me numbers and details and obviously trying to sell me on a specific course of action. Nothing I told him became relevant to the conversation and I never understood exactly how the whole plan was going to help me get my BMW in 5 years and my retirement villa in forty.

Was he a really smart guy? Sure. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, maybe he knew precisely the course of action I should have taken and was advising me wisely. I just never saw it. After two cups of coffee and a plate of donuts, I was sure of only one thing: I never wanted to hear about financial planning again.

This is not a lesson in How Not to Sell an IRA but a stern reminder that you need to make the conversation about your customer. Find out what your customer wants and needs. Then draw on your arsenal of experience and knowledge to let her know how you’ll fill those needs.

Find out what your customer fears. This is a great one – many times fear is a bigger motivator than desire. Then draw on your amazing arsenal of experience and knowledge to let your customer know how you are going to remove those fears and make everything smooth sailing.

I’m not suggesting that you placate or prevaricate – just figure out how to spin all the good things about you into good things for your customer. I want you to practice this right now. Go to your website or pick up your brochure and find the first sentence that talks about you or your company.

Did you find something about how many years you’ve been in business? Did you name-drop a couple of high-profile clients? Maybe lay out your super-exclusive three-step process for delivering your service? (Ahem… who cares?)

Whatever that thing is, I want you to turn it around and explain why that thing matters to your customers. How will it help them? What need will it fill and how will it make their lives easier or better? If you can learn this skill you’ll be far and above even the “really smart guy”. Hey, maybe he’s even smarter than you! But he’ll surely have one less customer than you.

Can you find an example of “me me me” talk on your website? How can you turn it around to make it about your customer?

Read More In The “Make The Sale” Series