Wow! Talk about a marketing challenge… A weak economy. People in a wait-and-see mode. Bad news on the financial scene every day. The consequence? Prospects are reluctant to make a decision. They’re hesitant to spend much money or make any kind of long-term (or short-term, for that matter) commitment.
So as sales professionals, we become persistent. After all, persistence pays off, right? Except after a while, our persistence feels like pestering (both to us and to them). Then we work on our powers of persuasion. But it seems that no matter how persuasive we are, people still balk; they hesitate to take action. Finally, as our frustrations rise, we resort to “closing techniques”. We become assertive (contrary to our nature). But all to no avail. We only succeed at annoying or even alienating our prospective clients.
OK. So if none of these approaches work, then what will? How can you get people to take action? Before I answer that, we need to understand why those things don’t work.
Although each of us is different, most of us have similarities in the way we react to things and situations. Because of that, I often suggest people use their own experience as their best example. Doing that allows us to put ourselves in our prospect’s shoes. It’s not that hard to do. It’s not that hard because you are already someone’s prospect! Just as you want to reach out to, market to, and sell to people, others want to reach out to, market to, and sell to you.
My suggestion for this exercise is to step out of the role of a “salesperson”, plop yourself down (figuratively) on your couch, and answer a phone call from someone wanting to sell you something. Not from a telemarketer, but from a professional just like you. And let’s say that they want you to spend or invest $2,000 in their solution. Or maybe $200/month so it’s less painful. Here are my questions to you: If you really liked and wanted their solution, but were uncertain about your financial future, would you make the purchase or would you hold off making a decision? Unless it was truly an urgent matter, my guess is you’d probably wait. Would persistence by the salesperson change your mind? Not likely. Would better powers of persuasion cause you to change your mind? Maybe, if the reasons were compelling enough. Could closing techniques and/or assertiveness make the difference? Well, they may cause us to put up a wall to the salesperson, but in all likelihood would not cause us to take action.
No. The marketing strategies we’ve discussed just won’t work in a tough economy. However, there is an approach that will work in a tough economy (and a strong economy as well). The most effective marketing strategy is relationship building.