Diagram from Salesmanship: A Magazine January – June Issue 1904
Gaining a prospects attention is really the easy part of this sales cycle, at least the way it has been practiced for over 100 years. Just shout louder and longer than the other companies demanding their message be heard and eventually they will get someone’s attention. So now they have a minuscule window to take advantage of that attention and generate some interest.
Through the years gaining a prospects interest has pretty much boiled down to the exact same plan no matter industry or generation. Features, Advantages, and Benefits has been used to move a prospective customer from the attention step of the sales cycle through the interest and desire stages to the conviction stage where they hope to get a sale.
Let’s focus on features for now. In an early 1900’s beer advertisement Rainier Brewing and Malting company proclaimed “Cultivate the Rainier Beer habit, it brings the glow of health and a new lease on life … No medicine can equal it as a Tonic” and that same ad claimed, “Beneficial to Young and Old”, above the image of a young girl toast her aged grandfather. Pretty crazy by today’s standards yet if you look at the ads today things are not much different. The biggest difference is companies now used images to imply features, for example this beer ad from 2020.
Drink this beer and win or lose the customer will feel like they have escaped to the beach, is the unspoken message from this ad. Companies use fear, desire to fit in, shame, greed, and just about any other hook they can find to get potential customers to keep interest in them and their products. Of course, there are a dozen other companies using the exact same methods and hooks to try and shift that interest.
The newest method to maintain interest in the minds of the customers is using what are currently called “influencers”. Influencers who have gained a following the new media “Social Media”, and who take money to advertise a company’s products or services to their followers. Basically, instead of Corona Beer paying the ABC channel to run a commercial they are paying Joe the sandcastle maker channel or whatever to perform that same function. While influencers are still on the climb in popularity soon the public will realize that these influencers are doing the same thing Facebook did just on a smaller more personal scale. Given the fickle nature of people this fad will decline over time and companies will find a new way to waste money pushing their message in front of people.
The problem with these methods of gaining interest is the enormous cost associated with paying for the ads, celebrities and influencers, and estimated 8.08 billion dollars in the United States in 2020 alone (about $25 per person). Eight billion dollars trying to sell stuff to customers that may or may not have the slightest interest in the product or service being offered.
Isn’t it time to Break your sales cycle and Disrupt your Sales?