I work as a marketing consultant to businesses, mostly in telecom and technology. Businesses typically hire my company to handle social media, PR, SEO or other web marketing initiatives. But in the end they all want the same thing: more sales and increased revenue. Over the last three weeks we have brought on several new clients, and during our kickoff meetings I always ask a battery of questions like:
- What’s your elevator pitch?
- Why would a potential customer choose you over your competition?
- Why do you lose deals? Why do you win deals?
And so on. I’ve learned a lot from these discussions, and frankly I’ve been surprised at the type of responses I have received. Almost all the answers have been the same, which has lead me to write this blog and expose two main problems I see in sales and marketing today, and offer some solutions on how to avoid them.
Problem #1: Don’t Confuse Features With Benefits
Most companies love to blab all day long about their features, products and services. And more surprising, these companies believe that they are winning and losing deals based on these “features.” The truth is, your features, products or whatever are a distant second to what really sells: the benefits.
Features and benefits are miles apart, and what most people consider to be benefits are just more features. So to be successful in your sales and marketing, you have to find those juicy benefits and squeeze every drop you can out of them. The good news is that there are truly only a handful of true benefits, since humans are pretty predictable and are essentially wired with the same set of motivating emotions. Which brings me to the next point.
Problem #2: Don’t Confuse Logic With Emotion
We all like to think we can operate on a completely logical plane, but in fact, humans are highly emotional beings. Studies have proven time and time again that emotions, not logic, are the driving force behind our purchasing decisions. We will even trick ourselves into thinking the emotions are logical, which is highly amusing. The good news is, once you accept and understand the emotions that drive people to buy, you can put them to work for you. Here’s a list of the most basic motivating emotions:
- Love & Lust
- Friendship & camaraderie, sense of belonging
Makes us sound pretty terrible, huh? Well I consider myself a pretty nice and upbeat person but I fall into these emotions all the time when buying something.
Real Life Example #1
Take my car, for example. Two years ago I was driving a very practical and affordable Toyota Corolla. But one day I wandered into a BMW dealership and saw it: the Z4 Roadster Convertible. This car is “sexy on wheels.” I took a test drive and was immediately sold, although it took me six months to actually buy one. I knew as soon as I drove it that I would have that car.
Did I buy it because of the Automatic Roof Button, the Sirius Satellite Radio, the BMW service package or some other silly feature? Hell no. I bought this car because of the way it made me FEEL…sexy, powerful, successful. And those feelings were so potent they completely overtook my logic. There’s plenty wrong with this car: it’s a 2-seater with a tiny trunk, gets terrible gas mileage, and routine maintenance costs a fortune. But I was willing to completely overlook those logical reasons because my emotions were sold.
Real Life Example #2
Perhaps that’s an extreme example, so here’s another from a business buying point of view. My business partner and I recently had an opportunity to quote a very large technology company for social media services. We built a killer presentation, showing everything we would do and how we would do it. It was dazzling, but lacked something very important – emotion. This was a 100% logical presentation. Somehow we lost sight of this knowledge we have about emotions and how they work, and guess what…we lost that deal.
Fast forward now two weeks and we’re faced with another opportunity, only this time we decide to subdue the logic and go in with our “emotion guns” blazing. This account was more of a long shot for us, but guess what…they chose us.
How to Put Benefits and Emotions To Work In Your Sales and Marketing
Now that you’ve learned what not to do, here are a few ideas on what to do. These are principles that can be applied to all aspects of your business development – sales presentations, web content, collateral copy and so on.
- Find the benefits buttons and push them HARD. Some people call these pain points, I prefer benefits buttons. Find out what problem your product or service will solve, refer to the list above and determine what emotions are driving the problem, and focus your time and attention on addressing those.
- Make your potential customer like and trust you. During initial meetings and interactions, focus less on details and more on the relationship. Find common ground, exchange stories, use subtle flattery and humor. Think of the best sales people you know…they are likely experts at this. On your website and marketing collateral, use “trust builders,” such as testimonials and logos of highly recognized brands with which you have partnerships. There’s a reason why sellers use the logos of Visa, MasterCard, AmEx and others right next to the “Buy Now” button. They know using those images will build instant credibility in your mind and increase your chances of buying.
- Tell stories. Quick question. Name three facts you learned in college. Hmmm…difficult? Now tell me three stories from college. Easy, right? We remember stories so much better than facts, so use them in your sales and marketing efforts, especially success stories and analogies. They also add to the point above and will help your prospect like and trust you better.
To summarize…bust out the benefits, forget the features. Exaggerate the emotions, lose the logic.
Anything I missed here? Please feel free to comment. Would love to hear about your experiences with these ideas.