Selling the Dream
by Robert Middleton, Action Plan Marketing
In past issues of my newsletter, Marketing Flash, I’ve spoken about selling results and selling the solution to a problem. Now I want to talk about "selling the dream." Once Max Factor was asked a question about his cosmetic business and he told the interviewer that he didn’t sell cosmetics, that he sold "hope." Hope, or any other dream, is beyond a solution to a problem and beyond results. The difference is the feeling. When you speak with a prospective client, when you write them a letter, when you communicate in any way, you are communicating two things: concepts and feelings. Actually they are rolled into one, because concepts can transmit feelings. The more automatically the concept is translated into a feeling, the faster you’ll get willing response from your prospect. If you communicate your process: "We use a collaborative management system" it’s a long way from the concept to the feeling. If you communicate results: "Our collaborative management system will help you improve profits," you’re a lot closer. If you communicate a solution to a problem: "Our collaborative management system will help you decrease your product defect rate," you may hit home, especially if that problem is a stated sore point." When you sell the dream, you point towards the same things, only your words have more impact: "Our collaborative management system will help you to immediately stop the bleeding and then it will make you so healthy, you’ll outdistance all your competition." Selling the dream involves using word pictures. It involves the senses and the heart, not just the head. It is said that people buy emotionally and then use rational arguments to justify the decision they’ve already made. So you need to sell feelings, or the dream, first. Does this smack of manipulation and trickery? You tell me. If you have the prospect’s best interests at heart and need to communicate the urgency of the situation and the need to take action, doesn’t it make sense that you’d try to communicate your message as powerfully as possible? This doesn’t mean you have to stoop to hyperbole, exaggeration and half truths. Marketing gets a bad name because of those things. But the use of word pictures, metaphors and sense-filled descriptions is completely valid when communicating with your prospects. Here’s a few tips to help you sell your dream: 1. Find out above all else, what FEELINGS your prospect is looking for if they use your service.
Once the problem is solved and the results are manifest, what do they want things to be like? How will things be different? How will they feel? How will the team feel? How will managment feel about them? 2. Help your prospect look deeper into the future than they ever have before.
Help them to picture a scenario that is beyond their current reality -- beyond their comfort zone -- beyond their reasonable expectations. 3. Remember that your prospects need to help themselves before you help them.
You don’t offer miracle cures. If you’re in consulting, you provide direction, technology, strategy, insight and procedures, amongst other things. But they have to make it work. If they don’t see the vision they often won’t buy, and if they do buy, they often won’t follow through. 4. Provide ongoing assurance, once the contract has been signed, that they have made the correct choice and that they are on the right track.
Many projects fail because of client apathy. It’s your job to hold a torch for that vision until the results create their own momentum. 5. Write, rehearse, test and validate the words you use to sell the dream.
This is not something you should just wing. What questions will you ask? What models will you show? What testimonials will you quote? How will you speak? How will you ask for commitment? Do you see that HOW you communicate is even more important than WHAT you communicate? We are facing an interesting time in our economy. With the crash of the Japanese economy you may wonder if we can’t be far behind. I am already getting indications of work slowing down for consultants because of the "Asian Flu." This is not a time to retreat, thinking you are the victim of the economy. As solution providers, change agents and "dream merchants" your job is to communicate passionately about how dramatically improved strategy, management, marketing and processes can turn a company around. Believe me, what you have is what companies are looking for. Sell the dream and and they’ll realize they’ve found it. Fail to sell the dream and you’ll be overlooked for someone who is. Now that you’ve read all of this, you might conclude that you need marketing help. Robert Middleton has been helping service businesses attract new clients since 1984. You can contact him at:
378 Cambridge Avenue, Suite B
Palo Alto, CA 94306
Tel: (650) 321-4449
Fax: (650) 321-6646
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