Finding Your Market

Wouldn’t life be grand if you only ever gave your sales presentation to a pre-enthused audience?

By pre-enthused I mean people for whom your product is a perfect fit…those folks who have been searching for the answer you provide.

Yep, that would be grand.

Philosophies abound. Sales lore mostly revolves around the idea that finding the right people – high probability prospects –¬† is a simple numbers game. If you present to enough people, some will come with you.

That looks increasingly like dead money to me. Meeting the people who are looking for me sounds way more efficient for everyone.

I have an answer. Who is asking the question?

Sales Resistors

Just keep making those calls, Chez.
Just keep making those calls, Chez.

 

It is likely true enough, that people are skeptical of being sold to. Even though there are millions of people who buy the trinkets they see on the twenty-four-hour shopping networks, there are multiples of those millions who aren’t into it, who just want to be left alone.

 

I don’t need anything, new, I’m happy with what I have. I am not interested.

 

That’s probably an accurate summary of the attitude of the majority of people. Accurate in the sense that they are not in the mindset of being sold to, they are unwilling to endure a sales pitch, no matter how much the product might improve their lives. The QVC network’s patrons are the opposite; they’re looking to be sold to, whatever the product.

Let’s tease this out. There is an entire supermarket aisle between “…not needing anything new…” and “…I can’t be bothered thinking about this right now…”. One is a flat-out rejection. The other is a conditional rejection based on a crowded life.

The truth is that most people are interested in change and improvement, but aren’t prepared to spend the time or the brainspace required to do so. We can all keep this kind of opposing thought process in mind. We know that we should be doing two hours of exercise a week, but we’d still rather watch Netflix in bed on our iPad. This, the salesman’s dilemma. How to connect a stranger’s underlying logic of moving onward and upward with the motivation to do so?

How can I reach these people? Well, there probably is no way to reach most of them. But I believe the sales-resistors form a spectrum – it’s not a binary, yes/no reaction. Some will under no circumstances be tempted into considering our products, but there will be others more easily convinced. These are the folks to find.

You Just Can’t Please Everyone

Yep.
Yep.

Good ideas are those that people share.

The premise of that statement is that folks will share those good ideas, if they believe in them. All well and good, of course, but there’s a problem. We can all be reticent to talk about something new if we think we’ll be met with resistance. New ideas are fine…but only if we think they’ll fly.

It becomes – to amp up my pop psychological blarney – an interpersonal problem when our audience is unwilling or unable to see things our way. A great idea can only be great if we communicate it, and as I learned in first year marketing, communication requires feedback to be of any value. Communication without feedback is broadcasting.

There then become two resistance points to overcome. There is firstly the (unknown) quantity of blank stare we might find looking back at us from the other person. (In the optimistic case, there will be none, of course.) As well, we will need to overcome our own internal resistance to sharing¬† a new concept. No-one likes rejection, especially our ego. That’s the fear of looking dopey problem.

Which is why being a great salesman requires ignoring the feedback. Find people, talk, give your presentation, and accept what happens, repeat. Good feedback will take care of itself. Unresponsive feedback means only that it didn’t work this time.

No reason to think it’s forever. The seventh time will do the trick.

The Virtue of Patience

We wait all night for this moment.
We wait all night for this moment.

I’m so new at the sales game that I don’t trust my instincts yet. Maybe I should never trust my instincts, and instead rely on something more tangible. What that thing might be I don’t know, although I have a suspicion that experience will end up being high on the list.

My interest in trusting instincts stems from trying to figure out how to think about people I meet who I think would be wonderful customers. To put it another way, when I meet what I consider a person who would benefit from my company’s products, I wonder whether I should approach them right away or some time in the future.

A case in point is a gentleman I know, Chris. I’ll use his real name, because I am pretty sure that one day he will be a customer and therefore feature hereabouts. Chris used to tend bar at a restaurant I went to a few times. He stood out as a superior service-oriented guy, one with an awesome memory and understanding of what makes a customer happy. Chris always remembered my name, my drink, and a little of my history. He knew how to connect.

Having given up drinking for a while now, I hadn’t seen Chris for maybe two years. I was at my favorite coffee spot, and there he was. Naturally, he spotted me first, and called out. Being so out of context I stumbled over who he was, but only for a second. Unbeknownst to me his wife worked in the lounge too, although I’d only seen her there a couple of times.

Chris has given up the bartending to take up healthcare sales – long term care to be specific. Seems like a good move to me, especially because we’re in Florida, and because he won’t be selling insurance. But that job is still working its way towards him, with some of the details yet to be solidified. He’s waiting for the owner to officially sign him up. So it’s a stressful and uncertain time. Probably not the right point at which to start him on another new idea.

However, it’s crystal clear to me (instinct only!) that Chris and Caitlyn are ideal prospects. Not only are they young, with a young daughter, they’re both fitness experts and clearly into being both healthy and wealthy. Caitlyn, I discovered today is a qualified personal trainer too. Could this be any better?

But I’m going to wait just a fraction of time. Not only do I want Chris to think of me differently from my drinking days, but I want to allow him time to mellow into his new job. I have no clue about how much headspace he has for yet another element in his life, but I’ll guess that it’s not much. Being a guy, I understand that when he’s squared away with that, he’ll be fine.

Patience, then, I hope will be rewarded. I could make the best presentation to the most likely people in the world, but if the timing’s wrong for them, it might all be for naught.

The other side of that coin is that I will never know the state of someone else’s mind, and that my job is simply to set an appointment and give a presentation. Maybe. But these two folks aren’t going anywhere, so a few weeks won’t make a difference.

We’ll see.