Every single day, my inbox is full of sales pitches. It’s the nature of the beast, being a sales and marketing leader. Everyone wants to sell you something. A sponsorship. Some software. A ticket to their event. A seminar. A webinar. Another thing to market or sell better. Whatever it is.

One thing strikes me repeatedly, and for the longest time, it was so obvious that I didn’t think it was worth writing about. But I was really wrong about that.

There’s actually one sales approach that works above all in this age of digital information, when anyone can get more information on just about anything with a few mouse clicks.

Ready? It’s pretty revolutionary.

It’s called: being direct and honest about what you’re selling (and THAT you’re selling it).

I think we’ve gotten so bad at articulating the true business value and benefit of what we’re trying to sell that we’re relying on gimmicks, sideways sales techniques, poorly-designed “offers”, and so much other detritus just to get someone to open our email or respond to our inquiry when the basics are really what get stuff done today.

Those of us who have decision-making power and strategic responsibility don’t respond to:

  • Cute and clever emails about how we must be trapped under something if we haven’t responded
  • Thinly veiled mass emails asking for our “input” on something when we know you’ve asked 10,000 people
  • Long, rambling “value stories”.

What do we respond to, then?

The right thing being presented to us in the right moment, with a very clear summary of what that thing is and why it will help us.

That means if you’re trying to sell me software to make my videos better, tell me that. If you’re asking me to register for a seminar about artificial intelligence and its role in customer service, tell me that. If you want me to sponsor an event, tell me that (along with when it is and what it costs).

For example, someone sent me an email saying “I have an event in City X that attracts 1,000 marketers at director-level and above, and our content focuses on digital and social strategy. We’re looking for sponsors at the $10K+ level and that includes a speaking opportunity. Is this of interest?”

That was a very clear yes or no.

Selling software? Tell me that you know most people have some kind of marketing automation package by now, but yours has superior analytics and deliverability optimization, and you’d like to know if I’m satisfied with what I have and if I’d be open to seeing something new.

Direct and honest wins, every time.

Because if you happen to put something in front of me that I really do need or want to know about, short and sweet and direct is how I’ll know that. Not a “do you have a really vague 15 minutes in your utterly slammed calendar to take a call with me that has no discernible objective other than just to get you on the phone so I can try desperately to get another phone call or find out if you have any money to spend” type thing.

Sales is only gross to people because our crazy end-run tactics have made it so. It’s simple. If you give me something interesting and valuable, tell me what you want from me AND tell me how that thing is going to help me be better at my job, I’m likely to either a) listen and ask for more information if the timing is right or b) tell you no, thank you equally as directly because I know it’s not a fit for what I need right now.

But either way, wouldn’t you rather know the outcome instead of spending hours and cycles and days guessing at my level of interest?

I think so often, sales fails because we spend so much time trying to cloak the “sale” as something different than it is. And if you’re struggling to get people to respond, it’s not because you need to be more clever or gimmicky. It’s because the value of what you’re offering isn’t clear, your timing isn’t right, or both. We all have all the tools we need to find out everything we need to know before we buy something today (thanks, internet and social media), so the sales process today isn’t about the pitch as much as it is a) informing people that something exists that they may not know about and b) clearly stating why it’s valuable and worth their time to consider. Directly. Simply. And efficiently.

Selling isn’t a bad thing. We all are eager consumers when we find something we want or need. It’s when the sales process becomes such a pain to navigate and deal with that it alone becomes the barrier and the deal breaker rather than the merits of the thing being sold.

Have you had the same experience? I’m ready to start a new no-BS selling movement to prove my case.

What say you?

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