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"You" and "We" Sales and Marketing
November 18, 2010

"You" and "We" Sales and Marketing


As you move a customer from “suspect” to “prospect” your message moves from being exclusively about them to about you (both).

Think about a man walking down the street who sees a flashing neon advertisement: what does it need to say in order to attract his attention? The average consumer receives anywhere from hundreds to thousands of marketing impressions each day according to experts. As such, it is next to impossible for the average person to consciously register each and every sales pitch. What is that special quality that makes for that tiniest fraction of commercials that actually make it through to that most hallowed of sales and marketing goals which is customer attention?

Many sales and marketing organizations have the idea that if your product, service or presentation is good enough then you can win customers over or at least get their attention. However, history has shown that this is a false premise and that consumers nowadays are less impressed by slick ads showcasing yet another supposed state-of-the-art, unique offering. What are consumers interested in? Themselves! Therefore if an ad either a) talks to something they are already thinking about or b) talks to them about them, it works.

In rare cases a sales or marketing message that does not speak directly to consumers about themselves or something they are already interested can be effective if done properly (or by sheer luck!). Most people can name some of their favorite television ads which in many cases are for products or services they have no intention of buying. These kinds of examples of advertising as “art” can be effective in generating new customers but they are beyond the scope of most sales and marketing professionals. For most of us, sticking to basic successful principles is what works.

The starting point of any interaction with a customer is talking about their needs in their language addressing them directly. Notice that is is all about them and so it should be. Do you bother to read the hundreds of mail flyers you probably receive each month or watch every television ad with avid interest? Then why do you expect your customer to? (The answer to that question is that we all think we are special and worthy of attention!) Rather, understand what your customer is looking for and begin the conversation by talking about that to them just like a friend.

As your customer becomes more interested in what you are saying they begin to connect the dots themselves and then begin to ask questions. This is when the “sales cycle” begins in earnest and sales and marketing communications from this point forward should lead into the features and benefits of your product or service as they relate to your customers stated needs and goals. Remember to keep returning to them because at the end of the day the purpose of your business is to understand your customers' needs and wants and fulfill them. The value of your offering is only what your customer gains by using it.

The generally trajectory of a customer engagement is as follows:

1) Start by talking about them to them (use the word “you” as much as possible)

2) Validate their problem, need or want and let them know you may have a solution

3) Present your product or service in terms of benefits for your customer

4) As they engage and ask questions, drill more into features and demonstrations

5) Always come back to the basic pain of theirs you are solving

6) Seek to collaborate with customers in finding a solution

The worst thing you can do from a sales and marketing perspective is to drown your customer in an endless spiel about how great you are and all of your technical benefits. If you do that, they will tune out and a lot of what you say may go right over their head. Rather, you must earn the right to sell or market to your customer only once you have their respect and attention. You do that by treating them with intelligent courtesy and making them the focal point of all discussions. If it is not about them then it is about you and, quite frankly, they are not interested in you and what you have to say unless it benefits them in some way.

Start with “you” and end with “we” to create discussion and a solution that is mutually beneficial!

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