Get to the Meat of Your Sales Message!

Last Updated May 19, 2011 6:47 AM EDT

One of the biggest myths in Sales is that you've got to "Sell the Sizzle, not the Steak." In today's business world, nobody has time to listen to your sizzle. What's more, trying to sell sizzle is merely going to convince your prospects that you're a "typical sales person" who only wants to make a sale.

Effective sales messages get to the meat quickly. They don't try to romance the customer with promises, opinions and guarantees. The faster you get to the meat of what you're selling, the more likely it is that your message will penetrate through the noise of the business world.

To illustrate this point, here's real-life example of exactly what NOT to do, from an executive recruiting firm (the numbers annotations are mine):

Frankly, we want your business and we are willing to work for it! [1]
ACME promises to respect and comply with your rules and regulations during the hiring process. [2] We understand YOU must protect your company, manage the integration of new people into your organization, and ensure maximum retention of the talent hired.[3] I don't want to sell you, Ms. Smith.[4] I will listen, consult and deliver according to your hiring needs. [5]

Please allow me to introduce our candidate, Dr. Jones who seeks employment as a, but not limited to, Research Specialist. She is open to relocation and extensive travel domestically and abroad. Her experience as an optometrist is somewhat unique. Currently she work as a KOL traveling both domestically and internationally conducting presentations to other doctors and moderating advisory boards. Please review her CV for more information. I am available at your convenience to arrange interviews with Dr. Davis and other Professional/Sales personnel candidates.[6]

ACME appreciates this opportunity to partner with you in your search to locate extraordinary employees for your organization.[7]

  • [1] This is not only trite but smacks of 1960's "go-getter" sales-speak that turns people off.
  • [2] This is like naming your car dealership "Honest Abe's". The mere fact that you feel it necessary to mention compliance raises the issue that this could be a problem.
  • [3] Now you're actively raising a psychological barrier to taking action by surfacing potential problems. And it's not at all clear why using your service would help prevent the problems.
  • [4] And now... a baldfaced lie. What's worse, it's a lie that the prospect knows is a lie. What was left of your credibility just went down the toilet.
  • [5] At this point, this is simply an unsubstantiated promise. There's no reason for the prospect to believe you. On the contrary, at this point the prospect's brain is full of red flags.
  • [6] This is the meat of the message, and contains all that needs to be said.
  • [7] This line is simply biz blab what with the "partner" and the "extraordinary." As such, it's completely unnecessary.
The example was sent me by a reader via email. My advice was to "stop trying to sweet talk the customer. Trust me, you're turning people off right and left. Just get to the point: you've got a qualified candidate and will set up an interview."

Two weeks later, I get another email from the reader:

Thank you! I have copies of email intros "pre- and post- Geoffrey advice" and the responses represent a significant change in the positive. I am your biggest fan! Your advice has served me well!
I can't say I'm surprised. Customers don't want a lot of sales talk; they want to know what you're offering and how it will affect them. Later on, you may get involved in substantive discussions of problems and solutions and so forth. But when you're just explaining what you're selling, get to the meat quickly.

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