In the painting, Munch places a man on a bridge, hands to mouth, screaming as loudly as he can. Behind him, the land, river, and sky are painted with undulating and swirling strokes evoking the feeling of motion. On the bridge behind the man a couple is walking, seemingly without the least interest in the screaming man in front of them. Munch uses dark colors throughout the painting—red sky, dark blue river, brown and blue unwelcoming land. One gets the feeling the man isn’t yelling at a particular someone, rather he is screaming to be heard by anyone. And you come away with the distinct impression his effort is futile. He screams his head off; yet not a soul hears.
Who would have thought at the time Munch finished his painting in the late 19th century that he was such a Nostradamian visionary that he was actually painting a portrait of a 21st century salesperson?
Marketing for most salespeople has become nothing more than a futile attempt to get someone—anyone–to hear over all the marketing noise created by the millions of other salespeople screaming just as loudly—and futilely, as themselves.
For most salespeople marketing is nothing more than a desperate attempt to scream louder than anyone else.
Salespeople and companies seek to strengthen their voice by doing more of what they’re doing. Need more business? Up the cold calls. Not enough response? Fax that flier to more companies. Can’t be heard? Triple the number of unsolicited emails you’re sending (SPAM when we receive it, “important information” when we’re the one sending it).
The issue isn’t the number of cold calls or how many unsolicited emails you can get out in the course of a day. It isn’t a matter that salespeople aren’t trying to be heard; most are working their tails off. And it isn’t a matter of salespeople not targeting the right prospects. Many salespeople have narrowed they target list to only prospects who fit well within the salesperson’s ideal prospect profile.
The issue is prospects don’t want to hear. They’ve developed their own White Noise to block out the constant, unrelenting racket of the marketing messages. A growing number of consumers, both individuals and businesses, are consciously choosing to ignore salespeople. They’ve developed their own mental Bose noise-canceling headset that allows them to block out any incoming marketing message.
A growing number of consumers have learned they no longer need salespeople to supply product and service information or for purchasing guidance. Salespeople, with their biased, commission-influenced sales spiel need no longer be tolerated.
Obviously, these consumers know they need information. They know they need guidance and help in making their purchasing decisions. However, a rapidly growing number want what they believe to be objective, unbiased information on which to base their decisions. Whether they are looking for an electronic gadget or the most sophisticated financial product, service, or strategy, these consumers want real information, not a sales pitch. They want to be educated on their options and possible strategies, not sold a product or service.
Yet, salespeople by the millions are still trying to sell. While these prospects are searching the internet, reading articles and books, listening to cable TV and talk radio shows about how to analyze and solve their problems or meet their needs, salespeople are still trying to gain their attention through an unwelcome cold call or a pitch on a direct mail piece.
We now live in a world dominated by information. Quality, expert generated information is everywhere. Experts are on TV and radio daily pontificating on everything from the most mundane consumer need to the most complex business problem. Experts write articles for thousands of on-line and print publications and publish books that address virtually every interest, need, or problem an individual or business consumer could ever possibly face. They present at seminars and workshops sponsored by known, respected, objective organizations and associations, educating those in attendance on even the most obscure issues. And they write non-sales or marketing oriented blogs and whitepapers, both free to anyone who wants to read them. And if you somehow manage to miss them in these media, they are quoted as authorities in news reports.
While prospects are doing their homework, many salespeople aren’t. While prospects are listening to those they perceive to be experts, salespeople are screaming into thin air. While prospects are buying, salespeople aren’t selling because they can’t catch the attention of anyone to sell to.
Nevertheless, there are individual salespeople in every industry selling more today than they have ever sold before. They’ve broken through the White Noise barrier and have found ways to actually communicate with prospective buyers. They’ve learned to communicate with prospects in a manner prospects will accept. They’ve learned to take selling and turn it into education, which eventually comes back as a sale.
These men and women who have moved beyond the worn out clich?s of personal marketing such as cold calling, faxing fliers, and sending unwanted emails, have chosen to embrace and participate in providing the educational information consumers are thirsting for. They thus remove themselves from the ranks of salespeople–who prospects believe are to be avoided and distrusted and have moved into the realm of the expert–who prospects embrace as an honest and unbiased provider of information and guidance.
By moving their marketing from a “sales” format, to an education, real information, expert authority platform, these salespeople have rediscovered the ability to be heard by the prospects they want to reach. They’ve discovered how to regain the client’s interest and attention by providing the prospect with what they want in a format they accept and eliminating what the prospect distrusts and hates.
If you want to build a top producing sales business, sounding and acting like every other salesperson isn’t the way to do it. Consumers aren’t influenced by the proclamation that you’re the best, you offer the best value, or that you take care of your customers better than anyone else. They aren’t influenced because they hear the exact same message from every other salesperson. Slightly different words–same message.
The top producers who are reaching their target prospects and influencing them are doing so by using the same media as the experts. They are writing articles. They are standing in front of groups of prospects giving talks–in the role of the expert. They are writing blogs and whitepapers devoid of a sales pitch. They are working diligently to get the news quotes and interviews. They’re spending time where their prospects spend time, working to advance their prospect’s goals and objectives rather than their own. They’re earning the reputation as the local expert within highly defined—and profitable-niches rather than trying to be all things to all people and then ultimately being nothing to no one.
Effective marketing today isn’t about how loudly or how often you can scream. Rather, effective marketing today is how well you can communicate with a prospect in a format the prospect accepts.
If you want to move from the middle of the pack, you must break out of the pack. If you cold call, spend a small fortune on direct mail, stick cheap signs on every street corner, stick fliers under the windshield of every car in the WalMart parking lot, and the other “core” methods of personal marketing used by the millions of other salespeople screaming as loudly as you, you’re destined to stay where you are—standing on the bridge screaming your lungs out; yet unseen, unheard.