What Drives Prospects to Embrace Efficiency?
Do Your Brochures Drive Prospects to Embrace Efficiency?
How often do brochures make prospects fall in love with efficiency? What would you say if I told you that, more often than not, brochures get in the way of an effective conversation with your prospect? Why? Because in most cases, the marketing department is totally out of sync with the sales department in terms of what should be included in those brochures in the first place.
Ask yourself: Are your marketing and sales departments—in fact, is your entire organization—capable of resonating at the frequency of your prospect? Has anyone in your organization taken the time to develop a genuinely nuanced understanding of how efficiency resonates with that prospect’s reality at the four distinct levels that matter: the segment, the industry, the organization, and the prospect’s own role within that organization?
Do your brochures contain any mention of how efficiency is going to produce benefits that are meaningful at each of these four levels? If not, I would respectfully suggest that your brochures are not worth printing, much less introducing into a conversation with your prospect.
Do Thick Proposals Drive Prospects to Embrace Efficiency?
How often do weighty “free audits,” detailed technical studies, or long-winded proposals drive customers to embrace efficiency? How many times in your career have you either offered one of these things to a prospect or received one yourself with horror, realizing that now you have to read the thing or at least pretend you did?
Tom Sant is a nationally respected consultant and author who spends his life coaching people on how to make more effective proposals. I was presenting at a national conference where he was also speaking and overheard him telling his audience, “You could probably put the words ‘Up yours!’ anywhere in a thick proposal like this and never be called out because people simply don’t read them!”
I have to agree with him, particularly in situations where you and several other bidders are responding to a Request for Proposal. The committee (or, worse yet, individual) responsible for reviewing submittals might have twenty or more of these boat anchors arriving in the mail. With only a week or two to review and comment on each and every one of them, do you think those proposals ever get read? Skimmed, perhaps. Read from cover to cover? Not on your life.
Let’s say one respondent took a different tack, submitting a one-page proposal (in keeping with the techniques taught in the Efficiency Sales Professional and Learning to S.E.E.: Sell Efficiency Effectively courses) that explained his or her approach to the project, along with a separate technical appendix containing the necessary details. Whose bid response would be reviewed first? Whose bid response would be the most memorable? Whose bid would be the first to be discussed when the committee met to compare notes on all submittals?
Do Environmental Concerns Drive Prospects to Embrace Efficiency?
If you got into this business because you wanted to save the environment, you might want to keep your agenda to yourself in certain settings. I remember reading a study published by the National Academy of Sciences in 2013. The experiment compared the reactions of various ideology buyers who were each given the opportunity to purchase a conventional lamp or a higher first-cost, premium-efficiency one. When faced with those two alternatives, one of which was three times more expensive, an equal number of moderates and conservatives purchased the higher-efficiency lamp, using its savings over time to justify the additional cost. However, when the researchers repeated the test and placed a pro-environment sticker on the same higher-first-cost lamp, sales among conservatives plummeted.
The researchers concluded that connecting energy-efficient products to environmental concerns can negatively affect the demand for these products, especially among persons in the United States who are more politically conservative.
They added, “Although the majority of participants, regardless of ideology, selected the more expensive energy-efficient light bulb when it was unlabeled, the more moderate and conservative participants were less likely to purchase this option when an environmental label was attached to it.”
On a related note, I remember hearing a particularly skeptical prospect declare that as soon as he heard environmentalists telling stories of “polar bears drowning because of shrinking ice caps,” he refused to believe anything else they had said. He continued by explaining that he had just returned from Sea World where he saw polar bears swimming with beach balls on their noses. “Polar bears can swim, for goodness sake, and if they’re lying about the polar bears drowning in the Artic, they must be lying about a lot of other things!”
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