Last week, I did a one-on-one Zoom call with a guy who was trying to sell me a marketing system. He opened by saying that he had sold life insurance for over 40 years and, “As we both know, all sales are 90% emotional.” I stopped him right there. I told him that I’d been in sales for 34 years, and that the emotion-to-intellect ratio in the sales had shifted significantly over my career. In fact, I said, it had never been “90% emotion” in my career, and that salespeople who understood how their customers think have the edge over those who attempt to manipulate how they feel. His response was, “You’re wrong.” The call ended there.
I tell you that to tell you this: Today, we’re going to talk about an element of sales that melds thought and emotion, and it’s the foundation of the Buyer’s Journey. Your job is to help navigate the customer through the Buyer’s Journey. Think of it like building a house. A good house needs a foundation, it needs walls and a roof, it needs mechanical systems like plumbing and heating, and it needs furnishing. But without a foundation, that house can’t be built. Motivation is the foundation of the Buyer’s Journey – without it, you don’t have a sale, and yes, there is a combination of emotion and intellect that drives Motivation. So let’s dive into what Motivation really is, shall we?
I define Motivation this way: Motivation is a feeling of dissatisfaction with the Current Situation, and a desire for a better Future Situation. In other words – “I feel like something’s wrong now, and I want something better.” This feeling can be emotionally driven, it can be logically driven, or it can be a combination.
One thing I want to make clear: Motivation is different than Prospecting. Motivation is buyer-driven; i.e. it is something that the Buyer thinks, feels, or thinks and feels at the same time. Prospecting is salesperson-driven; it’s that activity where we reach out to potential Buyers that we don’t know and attempt to engage them. Here’s where they do come together. Good Prospecting is designed to highlight or create Motivation in order to engage the Buyer. That’s why your prospecting message is important.
The lamest prospecting messaging begins like this:
“Hi, Mr. Customer. I’d like to talk to you about…” Who cares? That’s “me” driven. Good prospecting is “them” driven.
“Hi, Mr. Customer. Can I quote on your next order of…” Yes, by all means, let’s reduce the entire sale to a price right out of the gate.
“Hi, Mr. Customer. How are you today?” That announces you as a pesky salesperson who can’t think of anything good to say.
Back to Motivation. As I said, Motivation can be either discovered, highlighted, or created. Here’s how:
- Discovering Motivation: This is an “educated guess” approach, and it’s based on the idea that your targeted prospects are very likely to have a problem that you’ve solved for others like them. The problem is just bubbling below the surface in your prospect’s mind, and that feeling of dissatisfaction has to be highlighted in order to move them into a Buyer’s Journey. Let’s say that you know of a common problem in a given industry that you serve, and you’ve fixed it for others. Your messaging needs to center around acknowledgement of the common problem, painting a picture with your words of what the prospect’s day will be like when it’s solved, and then asking a question about their experiences with the problem. For example: “Mr. Customer, I know that independent shops like yours replace a lot of exhaust gaskets on late model GM V-8s, and when they do, they break bolts – which takes up your shop time and money. Our induction bolt heater has solved that problem for other shops like yours. Would you like to see a demo of how this can save you hours on every one of those jobs?” (For the record – bolt induction heaters are awesome.) A talk track like this highlights a dissatisfaction with the Current Situation that your prospect already has, and may bring Motivation to the surface – enabling you to get an audience and start them on a Buyer’s Journey. Your Buyer probably is aware of both the problem and a potential solution – but you are bringing it to the surface.
- Highlighting Motivation: This is possible if, in researching your Buyer, you discover something that would be a motivating factor for purchasing your stuff. As an example, let’s say that you notice that your Buyer is getting ready to add three new locations, and they are in an area where the incumbent vendor for your stuff doesn’t go – but you do. Or, they’re taking on a new product line and you sell a product that perfectly complements their new line. You get the idea. In this case, the Motivation probably exists on some level – you just have to bring it to the fore and suggest that you are the key to relieving their dissatisfaction. This can get you an audience, if you do it right.
- Creating Motivation: This approach works best when you have something new that your Buyer is probably unaware of. The Buyer might not even be dissatisfied with the Current Situation as they understand it – but the awareness of something new could change that. For example, once upon a time, the Lockheed Constellation was considered the luxury yacht of the skies and passengers loved flying on it. Then came the jet – and all of a sudden, the Constellation was consigned to history because it was very loud and too slow. Creating Motivation isn’t easy, and it requires a product that is genuinely new to the market and has such a high ability to change the customer’s perception that the mere awareness of it Motivates your prospect.
Whatever way Motivation happens, understand that you will not get a sale unless it’s present. If your Buyer reaches out to you rather than vice versa, you need to understand what Motivated them to enter their Buyer’s Journey – and as you move through the Journey, you need to verify that it’s still present.
The bottom line is this: When you approach a potential Buyer, you should understand that he doesn’t care, in the least, about what YOU want to talk about. He only cares about his own dissatisfaction with his Current Situation – and the first words out of your mouth (or keyboard, as the case might be) need to speak directly to that. If not, you probably won’t get the appointment. Then, as you move through the Journey, you need to make sure that this dissatisfaction is still there. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time and theirs. If Motivation goes away, so does your bouncing baby sale.