Stir ‘Em Up (Issue 524)

From the “Unreferred Approaches to Prospects” Department: We are reminded that we can't pitch our benefits to prospects unless we first get their attention.

Pitching benefits to prospects is a complete waste of time

I was at the office pretty late Friday night. Tooled into the house around midnight. Why? Email. LOTS of email…combined with “Nick’s Rule of Roughly 20” which goes something like, “You can’t leave the office Friday night until there are roughly 20 or fewer emails in your email box.”) Needless to say, Friday night is NOT a big date night for me.

However, on many Friday nights, I am delighted because my email box has filled with cold-approach prospecting emails. And I read all of them.

And, do you know what I’ve learned? Pitching benefits in those cold approach emails is a complete waste of time… IF… the email senders want me to pay attention to their messages. Their benefits and whoop-dee-doo roll into an indistinguishable drone:

  • Decreased X  by over 10% in the first 3 months of engagement
  • Increased Y  by 23% in 5 months
  • 30% – 40% decrease in Z  year over year

True, but completely predictable and, therefor, booooooooooring. Will not get prospects’ attention.

What to do differently? Let’s say we’re selling a boring bank product called….. “ACH with blocks and filters”….. which (when used) substantially reduces the risk of unauthorized ACH withdrawals from a company’s checking account. Right? It means that people can’t steal the money. Pretty good tool, yes?

Now, suppose we’re bankers writing emails or scripting voice mail messages to business owners, prospective users of this service. Which of the following two subject lines do you think would generate the highest response rate for our emails or voice mails?

  • Option A: “ACH Blocks and Filters Reduce Losses.”
  • Option B: “Three Secrets Your Bank Hasn’t Told You About Fraud… And What You Can Do About It”

Gosh… I’m guessing that in today’s environment, most people would pick option B, “Three Secrets…”

Why? Because it plays to readers’ emotions. Nothing to do with benefits. All emotion.

Or, how about this? Two hypothetical subject lines from banks:

  • Option A: “Brimstone Bank New Small Business Loan Program Reduces Interests Rates.”
  • Option B: “Danger! More Bank Loans Can Kill Your Growing Business!!!”

They’re both attractive and, again, I’m guessing…. Option B, “…Kill Your Growing Business!!!” wins.

Why? Because it is jarring – an emotional play with an unexpected message that might prompt business owners to ask,  “What does this moron mean, more loans can kill my growing business? I gotta read this thing.” And, that’s what we wanted, yes?

So, back to where we started. “Pitching Benefits to Prospects is a Complete Waste of Time.”

We are taught, “Focus on benefits, not products or features.”  And that’s a good lesson for selling.

But, first, we need to attract prospects’ attention!

Spewing benefits is, increasingly,  not attracting attention.

One option: Appeal to prospects’ emotions. Surprise them with something unexpected, even the opposite of what they expect. THEN, once we get their attention, we have a chance to get them to a desk for detailed dialog and discussion of appropriate benefits.

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