This is an article about getting your sales message to resonate - every time. However, before we can discuss that, I need to share a current, real world example. So bear with me.
Just like the news programs which, before the Paris attack, had been talking mostly about political debates and candidates, I have been discussing various aspects of the science behind sales selection.
Last week, an article I wrote for LinkedIn went viral and included a large number of very good, very insightful comments that took the conversation deeper and wider. The article makes for an interesting study because the writing followed the same path I took on an article back in March that had completely different results. Let's compare the two articles, examine what caused the comments to be so dramatically different, and use that to understand getting your sales message to resonate.
In a typical year, there are usually several articles written by people who aren't experts on sales selection, introducing a certain set of criteria that differentiates top from bottom salespeople. Sometimes they take the same approach and identify several criteria that should be used in sales selection. When I read these articles and it is clear that they are as wrong as the government is when they try to run health insurance and over-regulate businesses, I usually write a rebuttal article of some kind.
I wrote the first rebuttal article back in March and it caused a literal firestorm of emotionally charged comments, attacks, support and testimonials. In some ways, it was awesome and in other ways, it was sad.
I wrote another rebuttal article last week and it caused a tremendous number of good, positive, insightful comments.
Both of my articles were similar in that each exposed the gaps and errors in the original articles and I backed it up with science. But they were received in completely different ways. What happened?
In March, The Sales & Marketing Analytics Blog ran an article titled "The 8 Things the Top 1% of Reps Do Differently". It was lame, and the author didn't really know what she was talking about. My rebuttal article appeared one day later, on my blog, and had typical readership and comments. Then, CustomerThink ran with the article and that's when the firestorm hit. CustomerThink's Blog is not my audience, and doesn't have the same demographics as my audience. The first responders were negatively charged, and the second wave of responders were positively charged. It was an epic online battle!
This is the link to the articles and all of the comments. It's an awesome read, but the comments make it extremely long!
On November 2, the Harvard Business Review ran an article on the "Best Ways to Hire Salespeople". This article was as wrong as snow in July and last week I posted my rebuttal article on LinkedIn Pulse. It's not my personal blog, but similar readers tend to find it - readers who are looking for information like this. All of the responders were kind and many added to the conversation. No trolls. No emotions. No firestorm.
This is the link to the articles and all of the comments. It too is awesome, but not nearly as long.
I believe that the difference between the two articles has little to do with the articles themselves, but more to do about audiences. Deliver the right message to the wrong audience and you'll get killed. Deliver the right message to the right audience and it will resonate.
The same thing happens every single day in sales. When salespeople get to people who really care, who have a problem, who will be impacted, who have a financial stake, their message will resonate and they can do business together. When salespeople get to people who don't care, who have no stake, who won't be impacted, their message will fall on deaf ears and the wrong conversation will ensue. You know who I'm talking about - Purchasing! They don't care about anything other than price yet salespeople continue to call on them, trying to deliver messages centered around quality, value and service. The folks in purchasing, like teenagers, don't care! Stop calling on them. You may end up there to get your purchase order, but please don't start there!!!