Understand “The Educational Spectrum” And You’ll Increase Your Sales

Do you ever notice that when you’re in the market to buy a car, you notice almost every advertisement for cars on TV, radio, and in the paper? You even notice all those cars with prices shoe polished on the windshield in supermarket parking lots. You buy Consumer Reports and Auto Trader and read classified ads. You become the expert on whichever car you’re interested in.

After you scout the entire marketplace for just the right balance of price, condition, mileage, options, etc.,you finally buy the car. And chances are you will be convinced that you got THE BEST DEAL available to mankind. You probably even brag about the deal to your friends. “This baby’s only got 17k miles on it…but I picked it up for about what everyone else wanted for the same car with twice as many miles.” What a deal.

What about when you’re not in the market to buy a car? You don’t notice any of that stuff. Let’s assume you’re not in the market for a new Hyundai right now. I’ll bet you haven’t seen or heard a single ad for Hyundai lately. You might not even be aware that Hyundai still sells cars in America! Mentally validate this point: All prospects you contact in your marketing efforts will have different levels of interest and understanding about your product based on their circumstances.

Don’t Fish With A Spear…Fish With A BIG Net!!!

I was talking to a client some time ago that used telemarketing as a major source of driving in new business. He wanted to increase his telemarketers’ closing ratio, so he came to me for ideas. After reviewing the pitch they were using, I concluded that it was fine…no major changes needed to happen. Frustrated, the client threw up his hands and said, “That’s it, then? I’m getting all the possible sales? I sure thought that my product had a lot bigger market potential than the results we’re seeing now.”

So I asked him the same question I always ask every client: “What are you doing to follow up on the prospects that 1) don’t buy now and 2) aren’t interested?” The response was equally as familiar. He said they put those that don’t buy now in a database and call them every 30 days for 3 months…at which point they get dropped if they don’t buy.

As for those that just aren’t interested…”Nothing. They’re not interested! Why would I waste time on them? There’s an old saying that you should spend time polishing cherries, not pits!” Let me add one comment: my client’s average customer was worth thousands of dollars in profit per transaction. Just improving the telemarketer’s pitch was not where the effort needed to be spent.

What my client needed to understand was why customers were not buying….why they were saying no. The answer is what we call the “educational spectrum.” There is an educational process from the moment a prospect begins thinking about buying your product or service to the point when he actually puts out his hard earned cash.

Most marketers concentrate 99% of their efforts on finding and selling to prospects that are at the very end of the spectrum and ready to buy right now. These are what we call ripe cherries. You can attract them to your business by placing ads where hot prospects will be going to do their comparison shopping. Just remember that all of your competitors will also be there with their buckets looking for big, fat, red cherries.

Telemarketing and direct mail are the worst methods of finding hot prospects. It’s like fishing with a spear. You look and look and look for that one prospect that just happens to be to the end of the educational spectrum – one who just happens to be ready to buy. Can you imagine trying to sell your car by telemarketing? “Hello, my name is Bob. I’ve got a beautiful 1994 Cadillac STS for sale. Low mileage. Great condition. Only $32,500. Have you been thinking about a Cadillac?” Now that would be an exercise in futility!

I know what you’re thinking now. “But lots of people use telemarketing and direct mail very successfully. It can’t be that bad, can it?” I just said it was the worst way to find hot prospects. These two marketing methods are, however, highly recommended for another reason: you can target your market very effectively. In other words, you can choose a list of people or companies that are likely to be current users or potential users of what you’re selling.

Here’s how to weave your telemarketers’ efforts into a big net – keeping in mind the idea of the educational spectrum. Use this telemarketing pitch (for business to business): “Hi, this is Bill over at Widget & Digits. We’ve got a special on Widgets this week, but I know you probably hate to talk to telemarketers. So if you don’t mind, I’ll just email you over some information real quick so you can get back to what you were doing.” Use this pitch to gather the names and e mail addresses of every single possible prospect you can think of.

Now you can own your marketplace. Don’t worry about those who aren’t interested right now. Your job is to periodically send these people email or direct mail that do what? Educate. Over the course of time, you will get enough fish in your net that you’ll find plenty of keepers. The key is to consistently keep feeding them new and relevant information. Example: Why do you think you are getting this newsletter every week? This stuff works.

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