There’s an old story about a rookie salesman who outsold his colleagues by 200% every year.
But, by all standards, this rookie was a terrible salesman, and always scored the lowest in any aptitude test given to the sales reps.
So after 3 years of repeated success and breaking company records, the manager decided to sit down with this salesman, and with the help of a psychologist, try to figure out why he was outperforming his peers.
The psychologist asked him to outline the exact routine he went through with each prospect.
“I put the product catalogue on the table between us” said the salesman.
“OK… and then what?” inquired the psychologist.
“I open it to page one, and ask the prospect if they would like to buy the product on that page.”
“And what happens if the client says no?”
“Well, then I turn to the second page and ask if they would like to buy that product instead.”
“And if he says no?”
“Then I turn to page 3 and…”
“Alright, alright” said the exasperated psychologist. “I get the picture. But what happens when you go through the entire book and they say no to you on every page?”
“I flip the book over”, said the salesman, “and then I open up page one again and ask if they want to buy that product.”
Always ask for the next step
The above story offers some good advice for science marketers wanting to attract and keep more customers.
Namely, you don’t get business you don’t ask for.
So how much business are you losing because you’re not asking for it?
Of course, with science marketing, we’re usually talking about the “next step”, rather than the sale itself.
But the principle is the same: how many times are you not asking for the next step?
Moving your prospects through your sales cycle – by continually asking them to do something – is crucial.
This is the hallmark of direct marketing: always asking your reader to take that step. But many science marketers don’t do this. For instance, I’m always amazed at how many white papers and application notes don’t have a call-to-action at the end.
Improve your brochures with direct marketing
Take the brochure, as another example.
Most brochures aren’t used as direct response tools. Instead, they’re used purely as branding or image pieces. Or they’re used to provide product information.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with using your brochure to give your buyers the information they need. But it should also move them to take action.
So the first thing you can do to encourage this is provide a call-to-action or ‘next step’ at the end of your brochures.
You should also write your brochure so that its content provides value (beyond product information). And give it a title that reflects that value. For example, a title like 7 Ways XYZ Technology Solves All Your Experimental Needs” is much better than just listing the product name on the front cover.
So when you promote your brochures in ads or on your website, you can provide more incentive for readers to download it.
When you improve the content of your brochure, and blend it with direct response techniques, you’ll make them more effective. You’ll also see a significant increase in response over the long run.
And yes, by always asking for the next step, you attract and keep more customers too.
Until next time,