Recently I have watched a number of American How To videos on YouTube, and noticed a common trend that occurs also in American sales letters and motivational speeches. It’s a reluctance to get to the point.
One video was about improving your singing voice. That was the promise in the title. It opened with a question received from a fan who wanted to know the difference between the singing voice and the speaking voice.
The presenter talked about opera singers in the past, about vocal projection over the sound of an orchestra, about the modern use of the microphone, about the difference between theatre performances and solo singing, and the expectations of an audience.
She then compared the performances by different singers of the same song, and asked a series of rhetorical questions about each person’s vocal range, adding explanations of her own preferred key.
This tookÂ four minutes, and she had not yet started any instruction!
Another How To video was about learning to play a certain musical instrument. Half the short video was on setting the scene and describing the instruction that would be presented in a DVD set. The second half of the video was a demonstration of basic technique, followed by 2,000 words plus pictures, promoting the DVD set.
In general, there seems to be a tendency, in the Unites States, to tell you what you should be doing and why it would be a good idea. Along the way the speaker will bask in stories that illustrate what works and what does not. But the actual instruction is a long time coming. They tell you What and Why, but not How.
I’d call it theÂ Prolix Tendency. It’s a form of self-indulgence by the presenter.
There is a better way to create constructive tension and build the listener’s desire for your solution. With the rightÂ structure, both in print and in sound, you can grab and hold the attention of your audience, so that they will follow you all the way and enjoy the journey.
Don’t make people cry, “Get on with it!”
When times are tough, as they clearly are at the moment, it is interesting to see how businesses behave.
On my bookshelf I have a couple of books that were written some time ago, but whose titles would fit very well with the prevailing mood. One is called The Best Damn Sales Book Ever and the other is titled Buy This Book!
Iâ€™ll return to them in a moment, but let me contrast them with a couple of printers Iâ€™ve recently dealt with. The simpler one first. I received a promotional email last week from a printer I had never used before. I immediately replied with a request for a couple of printing quotes. It was ignored.
Meanwhile I received three promotional emails from someone of the same name, inviting me to a seminar on property investment. While I applaud diversity, is this printer wise to take his eye off his core business?
Now the reason I was asking for a quote from a new source of printing is that my previous printer mis-printed my business cards, and let me down when I pointed out the error. His integrity is worth less than the cost of re-printing my cards. (If you want to know who he is, contact me and Iâ€™ll tell you.)
Back to the books. Their titles proclaim the authors to be bold, brash and bursting with self confidence. Warren Greshesâ€™ Sales Book may not actually be the best of its kind, but it is certainly very good, and contains a lot of useful guidance for those who are struggling with slimmed-down sales pipelines.
The other book is by Raj Marwah who was born and raised in India, but now lives in Australia. His book on advertising owes much to David Ogilvyâ€™s book, Ogilvy on Advertising, but he has chutzpah in spades. And thatâ€™s a quality that will separate the best from the rest.
Wondering if you should have another go at a sales letter? Or perhaps a new business presentation? Let me make it easy for you. Write to me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A lot of people consider selling to be a confrontational conversion, lightly smeared with honey to make it seem agreeable. There are two reasons for that: first, the sales person wants to win, and second, the prospect wants to retain both his money and his pride.
Now, of course this does not happen in every sale, but it can be considered a typical model. Elements of the confrontation could quite easily enter any sale.
The second reason is that the sales person is scared of rejection. As you know, fear of loss or pain is a much more powerful motivator than the prospect of gain. Rejection brings loss of face – a concept not restricted to Orientals.
To avoid rejection, the sales person needs a protective strategy.
Some adopt a tough attitude, placing themselves in the dominant role, and the prospect in the role of supplicant. This old-fashioned macho approach is doomed to failure in the long run. Even short term gains may quickly be reversed with cancellations at the first opportunity.
Even the prospect wants to save face!
If you are selling, you need to build into your preparation a fall-back position. What is the least you will settle for if you don’t get the sale?
It could be something as simple as an introduction to another prospect, or even another appointment in three months’ time. It could be a referral to someone else. Viewed in the context of a new relationship, an immediate sale is not the only objective.
Work out what you will accept as an alternative to your main objective and you will be able to walk out with your tail up. Selling is hard, and no one can endure repeated rejections without being affected.
So protect yourself. Plan your fall-back position and give yourself another chance to feel good about the encounter.