Communicate Your Sales Message
By Paul Endress
ever wondered why two people can witness the same automobile
accident, yet each person tells the police officer a different
rendition of what actually occurred? Or, have you ever wondered why
one person reacts to your sales materials favorably while another
thinks your promo piece completely missed the mark?
answer lies in how each person views the world. That is, we all have
a unique set of values, beliefs, and past experiences that color how
we interpret events. These three factors constitute our “model of
the world.” And no mater how similar a group of people may seem to
be, their models of the world are likely very different.
example, you can have two children growing up in an alcoholic
family. One child grows up and becomes an alcoholic, while the other
child grows up and never touches a drop of alcohol. When you ask
each person why he or she drinks or doesn’t drink, you get the same
answer: “Because my parents were alcoholics.” Even though these two
people grew up in the same household and experienced the same
events, their models of the world are completely opposite. World
models are like fingerprints—no two are the same.
Unfortunately, most people tend to communicate via their own model
of the world, and not that of the person they’re talking to. As a
result, the listener never truly understands what the speaker is
saying, and everyone is left scratching their heads and wondering,
“Why don’t they get it?”
that people can finally “get it” when you communicate using
their model of the world. Here are some guidelines to help.
your own model: Everyone has a model of the world…even you. Our
model develops over time, with many factors contributing to it. Some
of it comes from learned experiences, some from the media, some from
friends, some from conscious decision, and some from upbringing,
just to name a few. While no one can pinpoint exactly what
their model is, they can have a rough idea.
example, in your marketing materials, are there certain things you
always stress, such as low prices, geographic location, years of
experience, etc? If you see a theme in what you’re communicating to
people, chances are that’s a part of your model. And if you’ve ever
said to yourself, “Why aren’t people buying this product? We have
the lowest advertised price,” then you’re likely communicating via
your model of what’s important and not what’s important to your
customers. Once you identify how your perceptions are shaping your
communications, you can begin to change.
Identify the other person’s model: When you know what model of
the world your customers use, you can more effectively communicate
your message. To determine someone else’s model, you need to ask two
1) “What is important to you about ________?”
2) “How do you know if _________?”
example, suppose you’re selling someone a car. Rather than lead the
discussion by talking about the rebates, the price savings, the
dealer incentives, etc., simply ask, “What is most important to you
about a new car?” Then be quiet and listen. The person may say
“price,” or “gas mileage,” or “safety factors.” Whatever the person
says, that’s an indication of his or her model.
suppose the customer said that gas mileage was most important. Your
next question to ask is, “How do you know if you’re getting good gas
mileage?” Again, be quiet and listen. Now you’re uncovering what
rules the person uses to match information received against their
model. The person may say, “When I can fill my tank for less than
$30.” With the newly learned information, you can now lead the
discussion with gas mileage ratings, gas tank size, and the
approximate cost of filling up the car’s gas tank as your main
selling points. Those are the factors that are important to the
customer, so that’s what your communication must focus on.
Communicate according to your customers’ model: After you do a
sampling of all your customers, asking the two key questions just
discussed, you can have a good idea of what’s important to your
customer base. Now you can phrase your marketing materials to
address the specific issues the majority of your customers reveal.
So while you’ve always been advertising yourself as the low price
leader (and experiencing mediocre results) you may learn that your
customers value safety over price. With this knowledge, you can now
make safety first and foremost in your marketing materials and use
the price factor to sway those people who are “on the fence.”
your company is large, you likely have market segments with
appropriate products/services for each segment. Tailor your messages
for each segment accordingly, communicating via your customers’
model, and you’ll have less confusion and greater results.
It? Got It! Good! Even though your natural tendency may be to
focus on what you think is important, if you want to get your
message clearly communicated to more people, then you need to focus
on what the other person thinks is important. So think about your
model of the world and pinpoint what model your customers tend to
use. Keep all your communications geared towards your customers’
model of the world, and they will finally “get it.”
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about Paul Endress.
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