I have been travelling for the last week, hence the absence of posts on this blog.
While I was sitting on the plane, I was thinking about something that I read a few weeks back. According to a book, written by Frank Bettger in 1954, the biggest mistake that sales and marketing people make when introducing their product is: “Making too many positive statements”.
Doesn’t sound right, does it? Clearly, when we market or sell something, we have to emphasize the good aspects of what our products and services deliver. How else would we sell them? I guess this notion is especially true when pitching a new product that your customers may have never heard of before.
Here is the interesting part: I have been trialling this approach of not making positive statements over the last weeks and found it to work, not just in selling situations, but in other situations, too. For me, it works.
Here is why I think this is. I think it has biological reasons. For example, when you are running through the woods (I know it is a bit stereotypical, but bear with me) and you see something unexpected, what do you do? First response is usually to freeze and not move. Second response is to evaluate: What is it? What does it do? Is it dangerous? And so forth.
I think we go through the same response when we encounter a salesperson or a new product: Freeze, don’t move. What is he/she selling? What does it do? Is it dangerous? And so forth.
So, why is this a problem? Can’t people overcome their initial reaction? The problem is that biologically, one has two main responses after these initial evaluation steps: either you run and hide or you prepare for attack.
I think the same is true for an encounter people have with a marketing message or sales person. They either don’t want to hear it or they start arguing. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? So, this is the problem with making too many positive statements.
How do you overcome this situation? I found an effective way to do so is to shift the way in which something is presented. There is at least one very strong biological drive that one can try to activate in prospective customers in order to try and overcome the threat evaluation reflex. This is the drive to explore, discover and understand. Ever wondered why so many new products are exclusive for a certain period of time? Some people say it is scarcity and that we want things that are scarce and that others don’t have. This may be true. For me personally, I was just curious to see Gmail, when it was first introduced. I just wanted to understand what it does. It annoyed me that I couldn’t just use it, so I asked people until I got invited to the semi-open beta version.
Overall, I find that people respond much more positively to new products when you help them discover and understand them for themselves. Frank Bettger did this by asking his prospective customers questions. I think this is a very good technique of starting somebody’s personal discovery mode.
Overall, the only way in which people will buy something is for them to want to buy it. Are you more likely to buy something you have discovered and understood yourself or something that was pushed on to you by somebody else? I love the stuff that I found and discovered myself.
And who doesn’t?