Selling is like dating, don’t propose on the first date

Wedding ProposalIn a custom sales training session this past week for a client with five retail locations, the district manager came up to me after the end of the session with this question: “Felicia, I have a question for you.  I have been wondering why our flyer, which we spend lots of money printing and distributing, isn’t effective at all.  Any ideas?”

After taking a look at the flyer, I noticed that, like many other flyers I’ve seen, it touted a 20-40% discount rate for their products, picture of the products, and then the usual contact information for the various locations.

I asked “Is this distributed to current customers, at a tradeshow where you exhibit, or where else?”  He said “This is used for mostly for area codes in the neighborhood of the retail locations, where people don’t really know us yet but we want to incent them to come in.”

Here’s the issue.  Giving a discount and asking for a sale when someone doesn’t know you yet is like proposing on the first date.  I don’t know anything about you, I don’t even know if I want a second date yet, and you’re asking me to marry you?

When one goes to a grocery store, do you automatically pick up something just because it is on sale?  Probably not.  What if you have used the product before and it’s on sale?  Now that’s a different story.  When you visit Costco, have you noticed that discount coupons are more effective when paired with sampling?  Give me a chance to try your product at no risk, and if I like it, then give me a reason to buy now with the discount.

So what do you do when you’re marketing to brand new people who know nothing about you?  Think what you do on a first date.  Introduce yourself.  Be curious about them and what they like.  Tell them a little more about you.  Notice where you make a good fit.  And then ask them on a second date to explore more (and don’t forget to get their phone number and contact so you can call later).

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