Red wine and chocolate have nothing to do with standing out from your competitors, but by placing them as the first words of this blog, I’ve created an element of surprise, doing something you weren’t expecting. Maybe it was those words that captured your attention and made you read this far.
But why is standing out so important for sales people? Surely creating and communicating value should be the focus?
Of course creating and communicating value should absolutely be the focus. After all, as a sales person, that is your job: to create real value and genuinely help your customers. Whilst it is also critical in enabling you to stand out from the crowd, when we look at the research on what and how much our customers remember, it becomes obvious why value alone may not be enough to win the deal. Astonishingly, our buyers are likely to forget around 90% of what we tell them. Let’s think about that for a moment – this means that almost everything we share with them is forgotten. Sales people must must find ways to not only stand out from their competitors, but must also ensure that it is the most important parts of their own message that fall into the 10% of information that their customers remember.
Additionally, if we factor in that it can be weeks or even months between a sales person (and their competitors) delivering their pitches and the customer actually making a decision, the importance of standing out becomes even clearer. Things can change quickly – an urgent need one week can be quickly replaced by other more pressing business priorities the next. In these circumstances, when the customer eventually arrives back at the point of making a decision, they must recall which of the suppliers proposed the best solution. If the 10% of your presentation they remember wasn’t the most compelling part, you’re unlikely to make the final cut.
How to be Memorable
So what can the sales person do to ensure they stand out?
Whilst earlier we said that creating and communicating value is not enough it is, of course, how well you create value for your customer that will go some way towards making you memorable. The more value your customer perceives your solution will deliver (compared to that of your competitors) the more likely you are to be memorable to them. However, your competitors are also likely to be adept at creating and communicating value, so we need to look beyond that.
- Start and end with a BANG! – Your sales pitches should start with something that makes your audience sit up and pay attention, perhaps an astonishing statistic for example. Do not waste this valuable time waffling on with unnecessary background, get straight into the action. Equally your sales pitches should end with a bang. A brief summary highlighting the impact of your solution, focusing on your customer’s emotional drivers with a clear and inspirational call to action. You should aim to end on a high and make the decision easy. One particular thing to note that I see lots of sales people do – leave out information on your company. If your customer wants to know what year the company was established or how many offices it has in which locations, they’ll look it up. The chances are that if you’ve got as far as pitching to them they’ll already have done all of the background research they feel necessary.
- Tell a Story – Stories evoke emotion in a way that simply reeling off facts and figures does not and emotions drive decisions. Stories are also more engaging which makes them more memorable. Research shows us that when it comes to decision-making, the brain uses past memories to predict the rewards of acting on something and then applies that information to make the final decision. Using storytelling to explicitly demonstrate the reward of making a particular decision (that decision being to opt for your solution), significantly heightens your chance of being the chosen supplier. For sales people unfamiliar with this process, the idea of storytelling can seem overwhelmingly difficult or even far-fetched. For advice on how to make storytelling in sales work for you, take a look at these posts on storytelling from our Insights Blog.
- Think Structure – Peak End Rule is a cognitive bias which dictates that an individual’s memory of an event is based on the average of how they feel at the peak and at the end of the event. That peak can be a positive or negative and is defined simply as the point where the person’s feeling/emotion was strongest. For sales people, this means that if you can make your peak and end points exceptionally positive, you are going to leave your customer with a strong positive memory of you and your sales pitch.
In order to choose your solution, the customer must feel compelled to do so and that feeling can only come from the belief that your solution is the best option for them. So it’s important to remember that gaining an understanding of what is important to your customer should be your starting point. Without that information, it doesn’t matter how different or engaging you manage to be, if your solution doesn’t actually solve their challenges and deliver real value, you’ll never win the deal.
If you’d like to talk to Salestrong about how we can help you stand out from the crowd, deliver greater value for your customers and win more deals, we’d love to help. Give us a call on 01778 382733 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org so we can start the conversation!