Flapping for Sales Success

This morning (Monday, September 24, 2007) I started my day as I always do; going straight to the sports section of the NY Times. Attached to the front page was a flap the length of the paper and about 1/3 wide. It had the NBC logo with the words “Tonight 9pm”. Pulling the flap to the side, you saw the entire line-up for the first night of the new season for NBC.

What a great idea! NBC decided to hit its target market, sports fans, in a way they have never been hit before; being forced to view their line-up before reading the information they were after. It was great positioning. They found a way to get through the clutter. They have differentiated themselves. Don’t you as a sales executive struggle with this on a daily basis?

But wait, it gets better! After finishing the Sports section, I now turned to the second section I read on a daily basis, the Business Section. It too had the same flap. Then I looked at all the sections and realized they all had the flap. NBC was targeting everyone. Every area of interest had the line-up for tonight’s shows. They have blanketed their market with the message to ensure no matter where you went in the NY Times, you saw their line-up.

What I don´t know is if NBC did this with all the newspapers in NY; or any where else in the nation. But listen, it got my attention. It worked. And now I am telling you about it so if you did not see the same thing in your newspaper where you live, you now know about it.

How would you like to have this word of mouth advertising? Well, it too can happen to you. All you have to do is follow these 7 simple steps:

  1. Make It Unique—sales people are always doing the same things to the same people. Everyone is talking about the same features. What can you do to spice up your message and make it different? How can you create a flap that will get your customer´s attention? The answer lies not in your features, but the outcomes you offer. Tell people what they will get in terms of results from working with you. Differentiate yourself from the same old tired remarks on why you are so good. What is it going to do for me, the customer? You want to make it so unique that people like me will shout out to the world what you are doing. That’s how you get word of mouth advertising.
  2. Make It Simple—sales people tend to get cutesy about how they describe what it is they do. Simplicity sells. Complexity stiffens. Make it easy for people to understand and buy. NBC made it simple—pull the flap, see the schedule and move on.
  3. Blanket Your Market—sales people in general do not have enough activity supporting their sales goals. The magic is in the mix. You need to make enough phone calls and on-site visits to support your percentage in terms of closed deals. You need to constantly be in contact with your market via newsletters and other venues to keep them up to speed on what’s happening in the market. Sales are all about timing. You want to be top of mind when the need arises for your customer. NBC was top of mind throughout the entire readership of the NY Times. Are you blanketing your market with your sales coverage?
  4. Break Through The Clutter—Besides being unique, you need to change the way you think. A sales executive I was coaching could not get through to the president of a company he was trying to sell. I told him to look up the web site. Make a color copy of the home page. Overnight it to the customer with a letter as to why you are the one who is going to help him keep his advertised promise to his customers. The letter was read, he got the appointment and today he is the leading supplier. This approach was different from making a call or sending out a brochure. What are you doing to break through the clutter?
  5. Make It Visually Exciting—NBC’s flap was colorful. It was striking. How striking and colorful are your conversations with your customers? Are you talking about them (which is of more interest to the customer) or are you talking about yourself? Are you using action words to paint a visual picture of how things are going to be better by using your products and services? Are you creating an exciting picture with your words and written materials that stops people in their tracks and make them look and say WOW!!!
  6. Less Is More—There was a lot of empty space on both sides of the Flap. You saw NBC, the logo, and Tonight’s Line-up on the front. On the back, you simply saw the line-up. There were no added words that took away from the simple message NBC was trying to communicate. Are you keeping your message to the point?
  7. What Is Your Point?—Many times I hear sales people going off on tangents or telling stories that have no point. You need to take your customers down a road that is logical and leads to a point you are trying to make. Obviously, the ultimate destination is the sale. But you won’t reach that destination if you don’t clearly communicate your points. Expecting the customers to understand your points through their own translation is a dangerous game to play.

Kudos´s to NBC Marketing. While marketing and sales are not the same discipline, sales people can always gain valuable lessons from other disciplines.  

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