Make yourself irresistible

By Ricky Law, trainer and consultant

This is the third article in a four-part series on how to make contacts which can lead to success in seven strategic moves.

Learning how to engage an audience and retain its interest is an essential part of the sales process

In the last two weeks, we have discussed the three strategic moves which focus on mental enrichment, namely changing attitude, integrating new concepts and modifying behaviour. Now, we can start looking at the four strategic moves dealing with action: open, read, browse and send.

"Open" means doing something that makes people listen. "Read" is retaining their attention long enough to persuade them. "Browse" relates to reinforcing your selling pitch for the final kill. "Send" is persuading people to buy from you or agree to your proposal.

Advertising professionals are experts in the "open" strategic move since a good advertisement will "stop" a reader and get them to look again. Recent examples of before-and-after photos used to promote beauty and weight-loss products clearly use this technique. They show an overweight lady, often a celebrity, before treatment and after the transformation. They are designed to create the possibility in your mind that you could do the same. This contact effectively communicates a hope and a future that is assumed to match your desires and the result is that you are willing to buy the products.

So, what should you do to "open" to your advantage? Firstly, provide benefits for your audience. Identify an obvious benefit before you make your contact and make sure it is appropriate. In the case of beauty products, the benefit is a promise to help you lose weight or look better. If you were dating a lady, the benefit could be the expectation of a romantic evening. When managing a team, the benefit could be an opportunity for promotion or a bonus.

Good opening
Next, make the opening statement irresistible and remember that good presentation can make all the difference. Many supermarkets and retail chain stores are trying to increase sales by offering discounts on a particular product at the checkout counter. Discounts, by nature, are a benefit. However, their presentation does not "open" the benefit fully. They tell customers, "Pay an extra x dollars and you will get a bottle of y," but spending more is not a benefit, while saving is. Much better would be, "To thank you for shopping with us, you can now save x dollars for a bottle of y." If any stores in Hong Kong adopt this approach and increase sales after reading this article, please donate my fee to charity!

You can see examples everywhere. A psychology magazine sent out a subscription mailing with a line on the envelope saying: "Do you close the bathroom door when you are alone in the house?" They generated a huge response, as the question got readers interested in knowing more about themselves. A school promoting an English course used an ad with the headline: "Do you make these mistakes in English?" and then listed some common errors. The ad turned out to be a winner and continues to bring in new students.

But, after identifying the benefits, you must still present them in a way that makes your audience unable to resist your "opening" statement. It is best to test your approach first and realise that what works in advertising is successful because exhaustive tests have been done to find out which ideas will generate the most business.

When dealing with individuals, you should also find out what works and what does not. Monitor and record the results so that you can integrate the winning elements and, over time, you will be able to establish your own unique style. As you become more experienced and confident in presenting benefits, your contacts will be easier and more successful.

Learning to "read"
After you "open", you need to retain an audience's attention, and this is where "read" comes in. To get undivided attention, it helps to present the benefits of your proposition in descending order of importance. Suppose your product sells for HK$1,000 and you are prepared to offer a 20 per cent discount plus a free gift and free home delivery. Do not mention all four benefits at once. Many salespeople make the fatal mistake of revealing benefits too quickly instead of seducing the audience with one after another.

Start with the original sale price. If your client buys, then you move on to find another customer. If not, offer the 20 per cent discount and, only if necessary, mention the free gift as bait. Finally, use the free delivery as a surprise, leaving a good impression and meaning the customer is likely to come back again.

The "read" technique can be applied in almost any situation. For instance, to change the habits of a member of staff who is regularly late, you can present suitable benefits in descending order of attractiveness. These could include giving him freedom to determine his own future. Have a warning letter ready, ask the employee to keep it and tell him he can discard it once performance has improved. Say you will recommend him for training if he reports for work punctually for a month and, maybe, offer lunch on you to celebrate if he is on time for two months.

Next week, we will discuss the final two moves: browse and send.

Ricky Law is a part-time lecturer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and a registered trainer with the Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC). He will conduct a public seminar on 7 August 2004 on the subject. For information and registration, please click here or call 2953 0069 for enquiries.

Taken from Career Times 23 July 2004
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