Selling to the Bottom Line
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person who has ever started a business, I imagine,
thought he had a good idea. It's the smart person,
and the rare person, who tries to find out the
most important thing: do other people think
it's a good idea?"
Bernard Kamoroff, author of "Small-Time
you've ever wondered why more people don't respond
to your sales attempts and marketing messages, here's
the first place to look - are you selling something
that people are willing to spend money on?
It can be hard enough to get your marketing message
heard and work your way toward closing a sale when
you're offering a product or service that prospects
already know will help them. But if you also have
to educate prospective customers about why it's worth
their while to buy what you are selling in the first
place, you are fighting an uphill battle.
A student in one of my classes proposed an idea to
sell financial counseling services to college students.
He reasoned that more and more young people were incurring
massive amounts of debt and declaring bankruptcy.
Obviously, the need in the marketplace was there,
right? But when I asked him if students thought they
needed financial counseling, his immediate answer
was no. They had other concerns and ignored their
finances, which was why he thought they needed him.
Right there is the catch. He thought they needed him;
they didn't think so. The vast majority of buyers - whether they are individual consumers or buying
on behalf of a business - only purchase products
and services that solve a problem they have already
defined. If you are the one who has to tell them that
they have a problem in the first place, you have a
pretty tough sale ahead of you.
In fact, your customers not only have to know they
have a problem, they have to be willing to spend money
to solve it.
A client of mine was marketing her services to companies
to help them build community partnerships. She knew
that many corporate donors were choosing to sponsor
one nonprofit instead of spreading their donations
around. But finding the right fit for a sponsorship
was hard. She tried to sell companies on her ability
to locate appropriate nonprofits and help establish
relations. But they weren't buying. They knew they
had a problem, but weren't willing to pay to fix it.
So it's not enough that people want what you offer,
it has to be something they will spend money to get.
And very importantly, they must also be able to justify
that purchase to themselves and others. This is where
you can provide exactly what your prospective clients
need to make a buying decision.
Let's take as an example a life coach who tells clients
he can help them find more passion in life. The prospect
tells a friend: "I'm thinking about hiring a
life coach to help me discover more passion in my
work." The friend is skeptical, and says: "Sounds
a little vague to me. If I were you, I'd spend my
money on taking those art classes you keep talking
about." The client has been unable to justify
the purchase and she is now having second thoughts.
But what if the same coach told the prospect he could
help her find a new job? When the friend asks for
details, the prospect, briefed by the coach, responds: "He says he can partner with me to help me seek
out the opportunities that match what I'm really looking
for, and stay motivated while I'm looking." A
much more likely response from the friend now is:
"Sounds like it could be helpful. What's the
What the coach has done in the second case is sold
to the client's bottom line. He has offered a result
that not only the client, but her friend, seem willing
to spend money on. He has also given her the language
to explain his solution and justify the purchase to
both her friend and herself. In fact, the nature of
the work he ends up doing with this client may be
exactly the same as it would have been when he offered
her "passion." The difference is that the
sale just got much easier.
The more concrete you can be about the results clients
can expect, the more likely they are to buy. And the
closer your offer is to a result that is already in
their budget, the easier your sale becomes. When selling
to organizations, these factors become even more critical.
Every purchase has to be justified to a boss or a
board, and if it's not in the budget, your sale may
have to wait for next year.
One of my clients was marketing herself as a facilitator.
In her sales pitch to corporate clients, she talked
about her experience and produced glowing testimonials.
But all her hard work produced only a few contracts.
Then she began marketing her facilitation in the form
of team-building retreats. All of a sudden, organizations
that had no need for "facilitation" were
eager for "team-building," and in some cases
already had that need defined in their training budget.
The key to selling to your client's bottom line is
knowing what that is. Ask the people in your target
market not just what their problems and goals are,
but where they have spent money in the past. A client
who has worked with a massage therapist is a likely
prospect for chiropractic. A company that has hired
graphic designers is probably a good target for communications
consulting. Get to know your market's spending habits
and you will know better how to sell to them.
In every communication, talk about the specific results
you deliver and the amount of value you provide. When
you can assign an economic benefit to making a purchase,
you increase the likelihood of a sale. This is why
finding a new job sells better than finding passion,
and helping a company make teams more productive attracts
more buyers than helping them run a meeting. If clients
believe you can either help them make money or save
it, working with you can pay for itself.
When you are selling a product or service with no
definable value - for example, you can help to improve
a person's quality of life or a company's work environment - be aware that you may have a tougher sale than
when your offer can be translated into currency. Look
for how you can describe your value in the most tangible
terms possible, and be prepared to spend some time
educating your customers before they will become willing
Selling to the bottom line may require no changes
at all to what you do, just a change to how you talk
about it. "Nice-to-have" products and services
may generate interest, but "got-to-have" ones generate sales.
Hayden is the author of Get Clients NOW!
Thousands of business owners and salespeople have
used her simple sales and marketing system to double
or triple their income. Get a free copy of "Five
Secrets to Finding All the Clients You'll Ever Need" at http://www.getclientsnow.com
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