Imagine yourself as a little kid, sitting around a campfire late at night. Someone is telling a story, and as the flame flickers, and the smoke floats through the crisp, cold air, you feel yourself getting a bit sleepy. But you fight to keep your eyes open, because the story being told is completely captivating.
The best sales messages don’t pitch a product--they pitch a message, and they do it by crafting a powerful story about what they are selling. Powerful messages make an emotional connection with the potential client by linking a product or service with a client’s needs. To craft this powerful message, the salesperson must see the world through a customer’s eyes, understand their personal and professional goals, and know why a given product or service will help them achieve those goals.
There are several techniques you can utilize to create a compelling story for your product or service. We’d like to offer up the following 3 tips for creating a powerful, effective message.
Orient yourself towards your customer
In our previous posts on 30-second pitches and getting clients to return your calls, we talked about the importance of listening to customers and understanding their needs. Whether it’s the script for your calls, the branding on your website or the structure of an e-mail pitch, your team should have a strong customer persona in mind that always answers the following questions: what is the customer’s problem or need? And how can we suggest how our product or service resolves it?
One way to organize your team’s message is to keep in mind three words: Who? Why? What? These are three principles journalists keep in mind when crafting their stories, and using them as a guide for your own efforts can help keep your message on point. Who are your customers? Outline your target customer’s profile: their profession, their demographics, their interests and hobbies. What problem can your product or service solve for them? Describe what you’re selling, with that client profile in mind as you tailor elements of your story/message. Why should they care or believe you? You need a convincing hook that honestly connects your service to their needs. Focusing less on technical specifics and more on outcomes--”Our service can increase sales in your key demographic by 200%”--keeps the focus on them and has a better chance of keeping them listening. The Brevet Group sales consulting firm recently completed a study that suggested, “Only 13% of customers believe a sales person can understand their needs.” That leaves a large percentage of potential customers with whom to connect, understand, and help. Is your message doing enough to achieve those goals?
Challenge the Customer’s Thinking and Create a Sense of Urgency
Powerful messages offer clear, simple, active-voice phrasings that help to sell the product by challenging the customer’s purpose and vision. Your messaging can help a customer understand how the product or service can achieve broader, long-term goals, and help them to build something in their personal or professional life. It can also challenge them to think outside the box: What are the “2 a.m. issues” that keep them up at night, and what steps are they taking to address them? Trying to see the world through the customer’s eyes can help to better align your message with their fears, needs, and dreams. The Brevet Study revealed that only 5% of customers remember a sales presentation’s statistics, but 63% remember a well-told story. How can your “call-to-action” story mesh with your customer’s?
Be Clear and Concise
Avoid overly technical words and catch-phrases, and instead, use keywords as an effective way of getting a customer’s attention. Inc. contributing editor Geoffrey James rightly warns about wasting a customer’s phone time: “You've got about ten seconds--that's about two sentences--to prove that you're worth the prospect's time and attention.” Similarly, a study by Statistic Brain suggested that only 4% of page views, on average, last more than 10 minutes. Clear phrasing around customer needs can be a key to making your message memorable in an increasingly fast informational world. Ask yourself, what is a promise you’d make about your product or service, and can you do it in 15 words or or less?
Creating a powerful message is about more than selling a product or service; it’s about creating a relationship with a simple-yet-artful story. By taking these 3 guidelines into consideration, you have the opportunity to generate compelling messages that inspire your customers to engage with your product or service, and help you to close a sale.
How do you help your company to create a powerful message? Please share stories in the comments below!