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Following conventional wisdom isn’t always smart


Is there any advantage to following conventional wisdom? Or, by doing so, will you only be following rules made by other people? Rules that may no longer be appropriate -- and may actually work against you?

Let's examine some conventional sales "wisdom."

Cast your net wide - "tell your story" to as many people as possible.

That's an excellent strategy ... for the barker at the carnival. Everyone who walks by and everyone on the carnival grounds within earshot is a potential customer for the attraction he is promoting. When was the last time you had the luxury of standing in one spot as potential customers drifted by; or sitting at your desk as prospects, eager to obtain information and place orders, clogged your incoming phone lines?

For the most part, the carnival barker expends the same amount of resources - vocal energy - regardless of the size of the crowd that walks by or the likely interest of the individual crowd members. But, for you, the professional salesperson, the amount of resources used, of which time is likely the most precious, is directly proportional to the size of the "crowd" to whom you attempt to tell your story. Telling your story to people who don't have a high probability of interest is a waste of those resources. Casting a narrow net, being selective and narrowing your focus to prospects that fit a profile based on specific criteria is a more efficient strategy.

Emphasize the unique aspects of your product or service.

The unique aspects of your product or service differentiate it from that of your competition. Isn't that a good thing? Well, yes, if there is a distinct connection between the unique aspects and the acknowledged needs of the prospect...and the prospect recognizes the connection. The prospect is likely to view the "unique aspects" that don't address his needs or are introduced too early in the selling process for him to make the connection as added expense to be avoided. Your unique aspects may facilitate your unique exit.

Make polished professional presentations.

What could be harmful about a polished and professional presentation? Often, they are too polished. They are so well rehearsed that they come off as robotic displays of concepts, facts, and figures, complete with supporting charts and graphs. Technically, they are precise and complete...and cold. They lack the human element. Yes, prospects buy based on the facts and figures, but they buy from people with whom they are comfortable and whom they trust - people who can share information rather than just present it.

Presentations can also be too professional. That is, they encompass every conceivable aspect of the product or service - including those in which the prospects have no interest or need. Such professional presentations divert attention from the core issues around which prospects are prepared to make decisions and instead, give them reasons to put off making those decisions.

Focus on the benefits and advantages related to your prospect's "pain."

Prospects have their own reasons (pain or gain) for buying specific products and services. And their reasons may be, and often are, different than the reasons you perceive or the reasons your company's marketing/advertising department chose to spotlight. Focusing on any specific benefits and advantages before determining their relevance to the prospect's goals (pain resolution) and initiatives and the importance the prospect places on them is likely to work against you.

If your product or service has more than one set of benefits and advantages, you need to carefully test the waters with your prospects before focusing on any particular set. It's better to get their attention slowly than to lose it quickly.

You can follow conventional (conformist, conservative, predictable) wisdom and achieve conventional results. Or, you can chart your own path, follow your own rules, and achieve unconventional (unusual, original, exceptional) results. There may be some real wisdom in that.
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Gary Harvey

Gary Harvey is the founder and president of Achievement Dynamics, LLC, a high performance sales training, coaching and development company for sales professionals, managers and business owners. His firm is consistently rated by the Sandler Training as one of the top 10 training centers in the world. He can be reached at 303-741-5200, or gary.harvey@sandler.com.


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