The UK Covid enquiry recently learned that Boris Johnson “failed to grasp the graphs and science of Covid” but whose fault was that?
Let me immediately get this out of the way - I believe that, as imperfect as Johnson is, (checks mirror), it was not his fault he was unable to "grasp" the facts.
The fault lies with the Scientists who failed to explain the science in simple enough terms for their audience to understand. Making the reasonable assumption that your audience is sufficiently well educated (which Eton/Oxford-schooled Johnson surely is), then the burden of responsibility lies with the Scientists to persuade non-scientists to act on their advice.
If you’re still reading, you’re probably wondering how I came to this conclusion, you may even be wondering how it could possibly apply to salespeople.
Keep reading, I’ll explain; plus, further below you'll find 5 Tips to Sell Your Message
Einstein said this about complex ideas:
When it's literally the future of mankind at stake, it’s everybody’s responsibility to make sure messages are clearly communicated and clearly understood by everyone involved.
If it really matters, you have to test they've understood you
Scientists should really have known this in advance and taken extra care to ensure their message had landed with Boris Johnson.
If they were in any way unsure, steps should have been taken to further explain until it was fully understood
How Does This Apply to the World of Sales?
Part of the Art, Craft and Science of selling is to make offers that mean something to customers, offers that are presented on their terms using language that is clear enough to compel the audience to take action.
Great communicators are skilled at breaking complex issues or processes down into bite-sized ideas and explanations that audiences can understand.
Great salespeople are also great communicators, they construct and present persuasive arguments or business cases that encourage the other side to act.
It’s imperative that, whatever you sell, you make sure your customer understands exactly what it is you’re proposing and what they need to do next.
Who said sales was easy?
No matter how complex - from exotic financial instruments to developing Optimer binders to Software as a service (SaaS), if your customer doesn't understand what you’re selling and how it benefits their business, they’re not going to buy from you.
Confused Customers Don’t Buy
Here's another thing, if you’re talking to a CEO, chances are quite high they’re going to have a different perspective of what you’re selling than, say, the Chief Information Officer, or the Chief Financial Officer or the Chief People Officer. They all have different life experiences, professional responsibilities and will all receive your message differently. You will need to tailor your message accordingly.
I take my hat off to scientists for being able to understand all the tough stuff but remember: Scientists aren't Salespeople.
5 Tips to Sell Your Message Successfully
1. Decide what is at the very heart of your message asking, keep peeling back the onion until you get to the very heart, the very essence of your message.
2. Avoid Jargon: People tend to trust what they understand. Using jargon might make you seem inaccessible or even untrustworthy and could alienate your audience. Using everyday language helps build rapport and trust.
3. Test the customer's Understanding: Can they repeat it back to you in their own words, accurately? If they can't, they do not fully understand and you need to take more time with them to explain it.
4. Say less, mean more. Winston Churchill, once wrote a letter and apologised for the length of it, explaining that he didn't have time to write a shorter one.
He meant it would've taken him too long to do all the thinking upfront, distilling his words into a crystal clear and concise message. It would've resulted in delay in writing and sending the letter, so he just went ahead and wrote it quickly.
5. Test Your Explanation with an appropriate peer: test your message with 1 of your colleagues to ensure the message is clear to them as well.
I worked with a Big 4 Professional Services firm a while ago who still mandate that proposals over a certain £value have to be peer reviewed by a Partner to ensure everything makes sense.
And if it's good enough for them....
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If you're concerned your sales team's messages aren't landing effectively with your customers, we may be able to help.
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