The Move From Fear to Hope
You know that a cliché is defined as "an over-used word or phrase that becomes meaningless over time" -- especially if your competitors are flogging the same over-used phrases as you. Today, virtually everyone claims to do “needs-based selling” or to sell “solutions.”
But in advertising and sales there are two reasons why your customer will make a purchase: fear of loss or hope of gain. There are many subcategories that can be aligned under these two motivators, but basically every purchase decision is influenced by one of these two common denominators.
At the left hand of this continuum, sellers sell "solutions."
But as you gain trust and move to the right-hand side of the Motivational Continuum, you begin appealing to wants rather than needs. A client might “need” to sell 10 cars on Friday to meet payroll. No one needs to be the largest dealer in your market, but when you can appeal to their want to be the largest dealership in your market, the relationship, and size of budget, changes dramatically.
My wife and business partner, Angela, taught me the difference between selling to fill a need versus selling to fill a want. Angela was a top-performing car salesperson. She says when she sold for a domestic auto dealer, most of her customers were families who needed a minivan to take the kids to soccer practice and to get to work. The focus was constantly on price and who could fill that need for less.
When she moved to a BMW dealership she quickly discovered no one needed a BMW but that they passionately wanted “the ultimate driving machine”.
The minivan buyer didn’t enjoy the shopping and negotiation process they endured to fill their need.
The BMW buyer focused more on options than price. They were proud of their purchase and often asked to have their picture taken with Angela handing them the keys to their new B’mer.
Angela seldom heard from the minivan buyer after the sale, but she still receives Christmas cards and phone calls from the relationships she developed with the BMW buyers even though it’s been years since she left the automotive business.
In consultative selling, we were trained to focus on the fear of loss or panic side of the Purchase Motive Continuum, looking for problems to solve . We learned that as long as our prospects were comfortable, secure, or okay with their current media strategy, they probably would not switch to include our station in the mix.
The “trick” to our trade was to keep asking questions until we moved prospects out of their comfort zone and uncovered a problem with their newspaper buy, their yellow pages, or their current favorite station. Once we uncovered that concern or worry, we would save the day and present a solution to the problem, often called “solution selling.”
Today, “solution selling” is even easier, because most local advertisers are already concerned or worried about the demise of newspapers, Google replacing yellow pages directories, and a rapidly evolving new media environment that’s almost impossible to keep up with.
When we present our “Electronic Media” solution, proclaiming a strategic mix of “radio to inspire and Internet to inform,” we can comfort the business owner’s fear of loss.
But what about the other end of the Purchase Motive Continuum: hope of gain?
There is no question that solving a client’s problem is a great way to begin a relationship.
On the fear and worry side of the continuum, your prospects are skeptical of you, your station and your solutions. In that frame of mind, they’ll “test” you by not laying all of their cards on the table during your Customer Needs Analysis (CNA) and be willing to risk only a small investment.
The good news is, most of your competitors will treat that small investment as a small investment, not considering the bigger picture and super-serving the client to develop their long-term potential. They’ll pick that low-hanging fruit and move on to the next tree, never reaching for the riper, sweeter fruit at the hard-to-reach top of the tree.
To begin a solid, long-term relationship, the best account executives have a plan in place to get to the sweeter fruit: to move each client, over time, from the panic/solution side of the continuum to the much more lucrative and rewarding euphoria/opportunity side of the scale.
Over-performing with that first token “test” budget is absolutely critical. Super-serving each new client at the solution level will distinguish you from your competition and eventually move your relationship from the fear-of-loss to the hope-of-gain side of the scale.
The problems with being stuck in the solutions or fear of loss side of the scale are many:
• You’re continually being tested
• The media that provides the cheapest solution often wins
• Budgets are short term and relatively small
• Solutions are often band-aid or short term
• Decisions can be knee-jerk and actually damage the brand in the long run
• Long-term, big-picture relationships are out of reach
Once you have differentiated yourself and earned the right to begin to move to the euphoria side of the scale, your relationship can take a dramatic turn to the positive side of the scale….hope of gain.
As you plan to build a longer term relationship your CNA will evolve into a SWOT Analysis: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. You will earn the right to focus on the dreams, hopes, visions, strengths, and opportunities while your competitors are still stuck in phase one solution selling.
The benefits to focusing on strengths and opportunities versus weaknesses and threats are many:
• The test is over and trust sets in
• Cheaper competitors are relegated to solving short-term problems
• You and your client keep your eye on the long-term ball
• Better advertiser decisions are made
• Entrepreneurs are willing to plan and invest more in proactive wants than reactive needs
• The focus on price is replaced with a focus on the dream
• Working with a euphoric client is more fun!
To differentiate yourself from all of the solutions sellers you must:
1.) Super-serve and over-perform when you open the door with your solutions
2.) Have a plan in place to continually build trust and look for longer-term opportunities
3.) Learn to uncover and appeal to the want or hope, side of the Purchase Motive Continuum.
Wayne Ens is president of ENS Media Inc, www.wensmedia.com producer of the SoundADvice radio e-marketing system and the Winning in the New Media Economy revenue development system. He can be reached at email@example.com
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