If you only remember one thing when selling…

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Whether you’re writing a sales pitch or delivering it in person, there is one key thing to remember. Without this one key element, your pitch is doomed to failure, no matter how good it is:

Within the first 10 seconds, you must address the main issue your prospect is interested in.

I just spent time at a trade show with a client for research purposes. It was interesting.  I watched the different styles of the presenters and I watched the attendees to see how they reacted.  I like to do this now and again in order to hone my skills, so I attend both consumer and B2B trade shows as I’m involved in both areas of marketing and writing.

The one thing I noticed again this time was that above all else was the fact that you have literally less than 10 seconds to capture the interest of your prospect.  Blow those first 10 seconds and you’re history.

A trade show is a good place to gain valuable lessons in direct marketing. Trade shows have many direct correlations to life.  Attendees are busy.  They’re on their way to the next booth and the next after that.  They’re inundated with information – most of which is irrelevant to them.  Even the information that is relevant is often hidden behind an unattractive booth, or an inefficient sales person.

By the time an attendee has spent 5 minutes at a show, they’re overwhelmed.  Within 30 minutes, their feet begin to protest.  Within an hour, they’re ready for a break and just hurrying through the last few booths on the row before going for coffee, or lunch.

In life, it’s the same way with most of us.  The booths are the daily distractions and the onslaught of information that bombards us from the moment we awake until we go to sleep at night.

It takes a lot to break through that ‘noise’.

Attending this trade show I realized, once again, how crucial it is to research your target audience and discover their key concerns.  There won’t be just one. But there will be trends.  Knowing these key concerns will help you build flexibility into your sales presentation and allow you to capture and hold attention more successfully.

Both written and verbal presentations have less than 10 seconds to lay out their challenge in such a way as to solicit an interested response from their prospect.  In other words, there’s no time for a lengthy explanation and introduction.  You have to immediately speak to a core concern and offer the hope of a solution.

For instance,  I noticed a presenter at this trade show (which was a consumer show) say to an attendee, “Have you heard about how this machine can help you lose weight?” The attendee, with eyes glazed from information overload replied, “No…” continuing to walk.  The presenter, seeing their prospect evaporating as they trudged on toward the next booth, shot back, “You look tired!  Come stand on this for a minute and see how it relaxes you and gives you more energy!”  The prospect stopped dead, dropped their parcels on the floor  and sighed gratefully, “Really?  Oh I could use a break!”  Within 30 seconds they were in place, enjoying the sensation of being massaged from foot to head by a soothing vibration while listening – gratefully – to the presenter introduce them to their technology.

When you’re writing a sales presentation it’s not as easy to adjust your approach to each specific prospect.  That’s why good research is so important.  It allows you to identify commonalities and trends.  It allows you to more easily address your prospect’s primary concern rather than simply making your pitch which could be falling on deaf ears even though your product may be something your prospect needs – and wants.  By not acknowledging the things that are uppermost in the prospect’s mind you run the risk of completely missing them.

Doing your research by interacting with your target market one on one at trade shows, as well as through well designed surveys, can help you deliver a far more successful sales message.  You may not think that you have the time, however, in my opinion, you will save yourself a lot of time and frustration on the back end by spending a little time in research on the front end.

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