by Jimmy Talbert
Have you ever asked yourself why more people don’t buy from you? If you’ve ever been in sales or marketing, you’ve likely invested time and money into this question as well: Do you provide a product or service that there is a genuine demand for? Have you ever read a sales or marketing book to find some strategies? They likely recommended a revolutionary idea like, “an elevator pitch, an ROI conversation, or marketing content that builds value.” Effective as these ideas may be, they all have one common element that will limit their effectiveness and hinder your ability to convert leads to customers.
It’s not a pessimistic mindset—it’s simply an understanding of why a typical sales process, conversation, talk track, or marketing piece, inappropriately speaks in the language of a seller instead of uncovering the language of your buyer. Throughout this article, we will uncover why even the best sales people will typically plateau at a conversion rate between 10 percent and 20 percent of the leads they are given or acquire.
These limitations exist, not because leads are not interested in what you’re selling, but because you’re following a sales process, while they are following a buying process. This creates a situation where you’re speaking a very different language than your prospects, and while they sound similar, they difference in their effectiveness is massive.
Let’s look at a story to better illustrate the buying and selling languages. Tony is our main character in this story. Tony is looking for financial freedom. Tony is willing to work incredibly hard to get ahead, and hopes to one day be his own boss. He decides to start a business as an accountant. After years of school and mentoring for low wages, Tony quits his job and moves from Venice to Mexico City, where accountants are in high demand. Tony is confident that the transition from Italian to Spanish is going to be smooth, and he’s willing to put in the hard work and dedication to make his business successful. Tony was a little nervous on day one, but the excitement of pursuing his dreams has driven him to keep working hard.
After six months, Tony had a very different opinion of entrepreneurship. What he found was, even though he was in high demand, was a better value than his competitors, and even worked harder than any other business in town, he had run out of money and was discouraged. His frustration was that, although he seemed to have what he thought was a great conversation with prospective clients, most of them did not convert into customers. With every rejection, the reality of Tony’s dream failing became more real. Pursuing his dreams of becoming his own boss quickly became a living nightmare.
What is the problem with Tony? How does this relate to your sales process?
Tony’s work ethic, training, education, salesmanship, and experience in Italy all pointed to him being successful in Mexico City where there was a higher demand for accountants. The major difference here is the language he’s speaking. Though Italian and Spanish have many of the same characteristics, they are very different languages.
The problem with your sales process is the same as Tony’s problem here. The only differences is sales people and marketers speak SELLER and buyers (B2B or B2C) speak BUYER. Just like Italian and Spanish, they have similar language patterns, but the message will be distorted during the conversation.
One day Tony found himself depressed, and reading a blog from a local columnist in an attempt to find motivation that would overshadow the anxiety he felt from his failing business venture. As Tony often did while reading the articles in Spanish, he highlighted the terms, verbiage, and definitions that he didn’t understand. While following this practice, Tony realized something that would forever change the way he did business.
Tony’s revelation was he needed to take Spanish lessons to become fluent in the local dialect, slang, and jargon his market used. If Tony struggled to understand certain things in Spanish, than his prospects certainly didn’t understand all of what he told them in his sales pitch.
He began taking language lessons and engulfing himself in the local jargon used by his target market. Tony found his sales consistently rise as he began to speak the same language as his market.
How do you learn the language of your buyer?
Unfortunately, learning to speak to your buyers takes more science than learning a new language. A systematic way to develop and test your buyer language has been developed and is available through a Conversion Optimization Analysis. During this analysis, a Small Business Growth Expert will walk you through a formula that will help you understand the REAL reasons people buy from you.
Once you’ve established a seamless way to understand what makes your buyer move to purchase, then we can look at the psychology of buying patterns in general. There are two general ways to illustrate value to a prospect in your sales and marketing communication. You can use your sales process and marketing communication to tell your customers what your product or service help them achieve, or you help them see what pain point or risk your product or service helps them avoid.
This is the psychological element that most sales efforts and marketers overlook. Only 20 percent of purchase decisions are triggered by a buyer moving toward something they want to achieve or gain, while 80 percent of buying decisions are made to avoid some sort of pain or unpleasant experience.
Let’s articulate both approaches and dive in deeper.
If 80 percent of purchase decisions/justifications are triggered by buyers avoiding an unpleasant outcome, how many sales approaches are targeted at illustrating this?
The “avoid” concept is almost an obsolete aspect of a sales and marketing process, even though it’s 400 times more effective.
Most sales and marketing processes include achieve language or themes like:
- Show the prospect how valuable this is
- Illustrate the return on investment
- Calculate the ROI
- Paint the picture of the prospects future with your product or service
While these techniques are used in the vast majority of sales and marketing processes, they are not the most effective way to connect with your buyer.
So, how can you transition to an “avoid” based language that connects with your buyers?
First, think about what you’re trying to sell? What is the first product or service your buyers typically buy? What is the progression of products or offerings from that point? Then think about your clients or customers who spend the most with you, who appreciate your offerings, and are happy to refer your business to others. What are the characteristics of this ideal customer? Once you have a healthy list of these characteristics, make a list of the value your business offers to your ideal customer. Now let’s make a list of the things your ideal customer will avoid as a result of the product or service you offer. What risks, added costs, or inconveniences will a person experience if they don’t buy your product or service?
Understanding what your buyers avoid by moving forward with your product or service is the most powerful piece of language that you can leverage to acquire leads, move prospects through your sales process, and converts them into buyers. Avoiding an unpleasant or risky situation is a far more effective tool to add velocity to a sales process. The key is shifting your value statements throughout your sales and marketing conversations from, the biggest, brightest, most and best, into language that speaks to the real fears, concerns and frustrations your buyers experiences.
Just like in our example where Tony had very bad luck speaking Italian to his Spanish speaking prospects, if your sales and marketing speaks exclusively to the “value” achieved, you’re speaking a different language than your buyer.
The simple answer to why, comes from effectively triggering emotion in your buyer. An extensive amount of research has been done to help sellers, of a product or service, tap into the emotional heartstrings of a prospective buyer. The most obvious seems to be the infomercial we can all get sucked into. If you’re saying you’ve never watched a fitness infomercial, you are either not being truthful, or you don’t watch cable TV at night, during the day, or on the weekend. I’d highly recommend watching one to observe the emotional highs and lows throughout the program. Be careful though, you might find yourself buying a workout routine to help you get beach ready abs, because it felt like the right time to get in shape. Advertisers, marketers, and sales people, have leveraged human emotions to drive consumer behavior. According to Psychology Today, emotions drive speed to make a decision.
Think about it this way—let’s imagine you have two very influential people in your life.
- A stock broker who had used his knowledge of current economics to give you important tips that helped you make a lot of money.
- A person who saved your life or the lives of one of your children.
While making money is important, the relationship is far deeper with the individual who saved your life. And while saving a life seems like an extreme example, preventing stress, hardship, or frustration in the life of your buyer will build a long-standing relationship and move the needle quicker.
Once an appropriate language is created, the next step is making sure the message you’re communicating is timely, personal and relevant. Educating/communicating with your prospects is all about building a relationship and trust.
The understanding of the language that will connect with your buyer, and build a relationship, is a complex process that’s often difficult to build on your own. One way to prevent your business from speaking a different language than your buyer is through a Conversion Optimization Analysis. During this analysis, a Small Business Growth Expert will walk you through a formula that will help you understand the real reasons people buy from you. You will also map a clear path to making your sales and marketing process timely and relevant, so you can stop leaving those sales on the table each month.
Jimmy Talbert is the sales conversion strategist at Keap. As such, he is responsible for the optimization and strategy of lead-to-sales conversion by the alignment of, top of funnel marketing strategies, mid-funnel educational strategies, and sales conversion tactics, while ensuring the lifetime customer value and the strategic alignment thereof. Throughout Jimmy’s five years at Keap he’s had the pleasure of working with thousands of small businesses.