I’ve been talking a lot lately about the need for salespeople to be memorable. Last week, I was reminded of a funny thing that happened several years ago. I was in a business networking meeting, and we got to the point in the meeting where referrals were passed around. It’s a group of professionals from different (non-competitive) industries who get together once a week to network and further each other’s business.
To protect the innocent, I’ll not mention any names – but the insurance salesman turned to the mortgage broker and said, “I have a lead for you. One of my customers wants to refinance his home. He bought it a year or so ago, but he thinks his credit situation has improved, so he wants to see if he can get a lower rate. He didn’t know any mortgage people, so I gave him your name. Here’s his information.” Comedy ensued.
Mortgage broker takes one look and says, “Hey, this is my lead to you! I passed this guy to you six months ago.” Immediately, there were two embarrassed faces and twelve laughing ones around the table. Most of us were glad we weren’t the mortgage broker right then. Turns out, he had written the customer’s home loan.
How does this happen? Six months ago, the mortgage broker had a relationship with the customer – or at least he thought he did. Now, the customer doesn’t even remember him. Is it possible for someone to forget the person that helped them get a home that quickly? Well, yes. In fact – as has been demonstrated numerous times – it’s possible for a salesman to think that he has had a “great” appointment with a customer, and the customer to not even remember the salesman’s name the next day!
Here’s a test you can try on your own. Next week, have someone else call back all the new prospects you met with this week. They should say that they are calling from the research department of your company, and they would like their help in gauging your company’s selling effectiveness. Ask your prospects if they remember meeting with someone from your company. Ask them if they remember the person’s name that sold to them. Ask them if they can remember anything specific about the meeting.
If you’re really good at your job, the answers will probably look like this:
- About 75% will remember meeting with someone from your company.
- Less than 50% will remember your name.
- Less than 25% will remember anything specific or unique about the meeting.
Sound depressing? Well, it is, but it isn’t. Remember, I said those are the numbers if you’re really good. For most salespeople, your numbers will be a lot lower. When I did this with a company I worked for some years ago, a few reps were remembered less than 10% of the time! What’s more amazing is that some of these reps were still making quota.
If this suggests a major problem to you, you’re not alone. Think, for a moment, about the old phrase that “sales is a numbers game.” Well, yeah. It is, kind of. The real equation of sales is this:
(Quantity of activity) x (Quality of activity) = Results.
Let’s say that, of every 10 prospects you see, you close one. Your closing ratio is 10% – probably about average. But, if only 50% of your customers remember you after your first call, that’s a pool of five, so your closing ratio is actually 20% when a customer remembers you. Therein lies opportunity. Make more customers remember you, and you’ll win more sales.
So, how do you make your prospects remember you? Since memory is individual, it’s not going to be enough to have technical mastery of sales skills, presentation skills, or your own product. You must truly tune into your buyer – and get your buyer tuned in to you. Here are a few good ways to get started:
- If your product lends itself to a hands-on, user participation demonstration, do that – and make it more fun and interesting than anyone else’s. If it’s not a hands-on product, come up with some sort of a hands-on game or activity that will get your prospect physically involved. People remember being participants far more than they remember being spectators.
- Ask questions that are so radically different than anyone else in the industry that your prospect has no choice but to stop and think before answering. That won’t be tough – most salespeople are genuinely lousy questioners. Remember that the Investigation phase of the Buyer’s Journey is about helping the Buyer discover his or her true needs, and this requires deep and incisive questions. People remember what they are ASKED more than they remember what they are TOLD. The standard questions “what would you change about your current service if you could?” have gotten so routine that clients can answer them in their sleep.
- Simple respect for the Buyer’s Journey sets you apart. For instance, respect the Buyer’s progression through the five steps and don’t just blast sales messages.
- Use technology in innovative ways. For instance, if a plant tour would be helpful to your sales messaging, but it’s hard to get prospects to your plant, why not create an engaging video tour?
The number one way to get a prospect to remember you is simple. Make the sales call an enjoyable experience. Most sales calls are pretty neutral for the customer – the “great” meeting tends to come from us, not from the customers. Whenever you have a “great” sales call, ask yourself if your customer would call it “great.” If they wouldn’t, you shouldn’t.
You get the idea. To start out, do the exercise and count the people that remember you. That percentage is your “memory index.” Then start working on making yourself – and your company – memorable. Keep taking your memory index every three months. Don’t let yourself become forgettable.