In the 2002 movie Minority Report, there was a scene that blew me away. Tom Cruise’s character John Anderton is pacing nervously through a shopping mall, and while he’s doing so personalized holographic advertisements are being thrown at him left, right and center. He is literally being offered services by hame as his eyeballs are read by a scanner.
One yells, “John Anderton! You could use a Guinness right about now!”
Of course, a Guinness is the last thing John needs at that point in his life. Or, for that matter, a new Amex card or a Lexus. He’s on a frantic mission to prove that he’s innocent of a future crime, so these ads are nothing but supremely annoying.
While eyeballs are not being scanned by today’s salespeople (at least not quite yet), cookies are being scanned so that messages can be accurately targeted to the right audience.
As with the film, such online sales efforts usually end up as nothing more than annoyances, simply because it’s almost impossible for their creators to address the specific problems or issues actually confronting prospects.
Generic sales messages have been being hurled at us for years by marketing and sales gurus.
Rather than seeking out or creating specific targeted audiences, then crafting and sending appropriate messages to them, marketing has been somewhat hit or miss. There’s a saying that very much rings true here: “If you throw enough mud at the wall, some of it is bound to stick.”
Prior to the advent of digital marketing, salespeople tried to create value for prospects through demonstrations, networking and print advertising. But now, buyers can find all the information they need online, so the methods that salespeople use for presenting their value proposition must change.
This is easier said than done, and the inability to communicate value messages is one of the biggest inhibitors to attracting new customers and achieving sales success.
Modern-day buyers are only interested in how a product can benefit them.
The features of a product might be interesting, but if it’s not going to provide a direct benefit and help them achieve their desired outcomes, then they’re simply not interested. In a world where consumers have all the information they need at their fingertips, selling has become harder than ever.
Value messaging needs to change to keep up with this evolution of the buyer. Selling a product is no longer about the product. It’s all about the buyer.
Making a purchase is now a journey that involves emotions, feelings, goals and solutions. And a salesperson can only facilitate this journey if they know their customer well. They need to have conversations and truly get to the heart of their problems.
Sales message dynamics
Value messages need to follow a process that changes and meanders with the customer’s buying journey. There is a definite beginning, middle and end in the sales process, and salespeople need to help customers understand their own challenges (because often they don’t) and provide a solution that will achieve a desired result. A proper conversation with a customer opens the lines of communication and can address a problem the customer wasn’t even aware they had.
Creating new business
The inability to communicate value messages effectively not only inhibits sales success, but also impedes the ability to attract new leads and clients, and expand existing ones into more valuable clients. This makes sales messaging even more important when it comes to successful business.
It’s imperative that salespeople know how to plan, construct and present their messages effectively. We need to focus more on the customers’ pain points and explain the value they will get from the product. This is where personalized, one-on-one sales techniques make a difference.
What’s the best way to begin the process of communicating value messages that will ensure that the right people sit up and listen? Attract, train and retain exceptional salespeople.
Great salespeople engage prospects and build trust. While many lead generation methods and sales processes involve online communication methods, salespeople provide what digital marketing can’t – a human connection and an ongoing relationship.
Take digital retargeted marketing, where sales messages are shown to people who have visited a certain web page in the past. Often there was a valid reason the customer didn’t buy from that page. They may have found a better product elsewhere, couldn’t find what they were looking for, or decided not to buy after all. The real reason for the lack of sale is lost in retargeting, to the point where continuing to show advertisements just irritates the customer.
What bridges the gap? A human conversation to determine the needs of the customer and find a solution.
In other words, digital sales tactics will only get you so far, and so will scanning people’s eyeballs.
For 15 years, the mall scene in Minority Report has been held up as an example of what brands can achieve when technology, media and sales combine. Now, in many ways, we are coming close to this futuristic reality – but countless sales opportunities will be lost without any genuine human interaction.
Those ads in Minority Report certainly do their job in speaking AT John Alderton, but they don’t open a conversation with him to find out what he needs to make his life easier. If someone actually bothered to ask John what he wanted, they would probably have discovered that fugitives will pay through the nose for a change of clothes and a good, old-fashioned beard and moustache disguise.
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Awesome write up.