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The best way I know to increase sales

The best way I know to increase sales

April 28, 2011

The next time you find yourself asking, 'What do our prospects need?' . . . Stop!

Most likely, no one needs your product or service. That may sound crazy. In fact, most people I talk with are offended when I tell them this. Of course, I don't mean to offend anyone so let me explain.

We need food, shelter and clothing. But do we really need a $40,000 car? A vacation home? A boat? Five TVs in our home? Six computers? A china set? A cell phone? Microwave? A Starbucks double latte with a shot of espresso?

Of course not. So how do we sell something people don't really need? I'll tell you.

No matter where you go or who you talk with you'll find people have a hierarchy of needs. Remember Maslow's famous "Hierachy of Needs" from Psychology 101? (See diagram. Don't worry, there's no test!). Once the basic needs are met then you move into what I call 'wants' -- such as the desire to make friends and feel like you're making a difference in the world. In the U.S., most of our basic needs are met. So it's usually the 'wants' we're trying to sell.

Logic alone isn't enough of a marketing appeal because consumers really don't need most of our products and services. Therefore, you need to tap into your prospects' emotional hot buttons to appeal to their 'wants' to make the sale.

I recommend a four-point marketing system that I call, 'Pain, agitate, solve and story,' or PASS.

Before we go any farther, however, I need you to make a commitment that you will only use this information to help others. Tapping into emotional hot buttons is a very powerful technique that can be used for the wrong reasons; so I ask you to use this information to improve the lives of your customers.

My system taps into emotions to sell. That's why it's so powerful. First, you want to find your prospects' pain. Find out what keeps them up at night. What do they worry about? Next, you want to agitate those fears or worries in your marketing or ads. Talk about what may eventually happen if they do nothing. Show how much worse things may get. Next, show how you can relieve or solve that pain with your product or service. Finally, tell a story about how you've relieved other people's pain.

People buy based on emotions and then they rationalize it based on logic. This is something that has taken me years to learn but has been proven successful over and over. A $60,000 sports car becomes a reward for years of hard work. A vacation home is an investment. That Starbucks cup of coffee is a treat. But first, we fall in love with the vacation home, the car and cup of coffee. Then we rationalize why it's a smart purchase.

Many Americans today aren't thinking about the next day. They're thinking about the problems they're experiencing today -- right now.

That's why one of the most powerful hot button you can tap into is a prospect's pain.

In fact, most of us follow the pain/pleasure principle, which is all about people avoiding pain and running towards pleasure. Nobody does anything until they can either anticipate that much pleasure will be derived, or they are in so much pain that they have to take action. That's when a person finally does something. When we literally anticipate or feel hunger, that's when we'll go get something to eat. Of course, the way this works with a hungry stomach applies also to emotional or psychological hunger.

The secret is to empathize with the prospects' pain. Show them that you know what they're going through. Let them know you understand what they're wrestling with. Then show how damaging it can be to themselves and to those around them if they continue on that path. And finally, prove how you can ease their pain or even eliminate it with your product or service.

Mauro Financial, a collections service for businesses, increased its response rate 700% on a direct mail campaign using this secret. The firm targetted business owners with high receivables. Most bill collection services promise to reduce businesses' outstanding receivables, but Mauro really grabbed its prospects' attention by sending a crumpled up sales letter in a small trash can from LumpyMail.com. The message: don't throw away your receivables because Mauro can convert them into cash.

You can't help but open it. And it worked so well because it offered to get rid of prospects' receivables -- one of the biggest pain points business owners deal with in some markets.

It works just as well in the consumer market too. Why? Because in American society today, most people are completely overwhelmed, overworked, and overstressed. People work approximately 8 weeks longer per year than in 1969 – in the space of a single generation – but for roughly the same income (after adjusting for inflation), according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health Conference. While 63% of Americans say they log more than 40 hours per week at the office, 40% say they log more than 50 hours per week, according to an Expedia.com poll.

The predictions of more leisure time with all of our time-saving machines never panned out. People indeed are able to accomplish more in less time, but more is expected of them. This leaves everybody stressed.

A company by the name of Curves has taken advantage of this principle. They know that women are more stressed out, often carrying two full time jobs – work and home. What can she do? Curves decided to reduce her stress, reduce her hassles, reduce her worries, and create a service that was unique to her. They focused on their hungry fish: women who are short on time and motivated to take care of themselves.

They presented their Big Zig: “Do away with the hassle of trying to get to a full hour workout at a fancy gym. Come to our conveniently located gyms in numerous locations. And don’t worry about being self-conscious. It’s all women here!” Curves offers a 30-minute workout so a few minutes per machine is enough. And it’s conveniently located – many times in a shopping mall. Because they tapped into an emotional hot button sales have skyrocketed. In 1995, since franchising, they have acquired over 2 million members and have more than 6,000 locations with over $1 billion in revenue.

What problems are your prospects experiencing? (Remember the PASS principle I described above.) What's their pain? How can you agitate it, solve it and tell stories of how you've helped other customers?

Try it and I guarantee you'll see your sales increase.

Always taking you from where you are to where you want to go,


Jon Goldman, President & CEO 
Brand Launcher 
Lumpy Mail