By Jeff Beals
When Pam Lontos was a 15-year-old growing up in Texas, she took a one-hundred-percent commission job selling shoes at a local department store. In her early twenties, after a stint she describes as “a depressed, overweight housewife,” she took a job selling health club memberships. In both positions, she excelled, surprising the bosses with her tremendous performance and production.
That success led to a long career in sales, marketing and coaching others to be successful.
Lontos went on to work in radio sales, breaking sales records despite her station’s tiny Arbitron ratings. The ownership eventually promoted her to a management role, and she promptly increased sales 500 percent even though the station’s ratings never improved. That led to a national job as vice president of sales for Disney’s Shamrock Broadcasting where she similarly boosted sales 500 percent.
After being invited to speak in front of thousands of broadcasting professionals, she wound up becoming a motivational speaker and author, so she could share her abilities with others. She recently sold a publicity firm she founded and now coaches professional speakers and authors on how to do more business.
So what’s her secret? Why has Lontos been so successful in her sales and marketing work?
Admittedly, some of her success can be attributed to an engaging personality, but most of it is due to proper technique: Build rapport. Ask questions. Gear your presentation to their wants. Don’t give your credentials until they tell you what they want. Think to yourself, “Who cares?!!?”
“All people care about is what’s in it for them,” Lontos said.
Professionals who market or sell products and services must constantly ask themselves, “Who cares?!!?” When Lontos led sales training seminars, she would have an audience member stand up and say one attribute of his company or product. She would then have the rest of the audience shout, “Who cares?!!?”
“Our product outsells the competition two-to-one.” “Who cares?!!?”
“We doubled our company’s revenue growth last year.” “Who cares?!!?”
“We offer cutting-edge financial management solutions.” “Who cares?!!?”
Too many marketers and sales professionals focus on features and benefits instead of discovering what the prospective buyer really wants and then customizing what they offer to satisfy what prospects truly value.
Lontos realized the importance of focusing on customer values early in her job selling fitness club memberships.
“Let’s say someone comes into the club, because they just found out they’re going on a corporate trip with colleagues to Acapulco later that summer,” Lontos said. “They put on their bikini, look in the mirror and realize they have four months to get rid of those flabby thighs.” Some salespersons could hear that story and totally ignore it, instead focusing on the rehearsed script, saying something like, “You’ll want to work out three times per week. This will improve your cardio-vascular fitness, so you’ll avoid a heart attack.”
Such a response would be an absolute failure if you’re trying to sell the woman worrying about the upcoming business junket.
“At that point in time, she’s not thinking about heart attacks,” Lontos said. “She doesn’t care about heart attacks. She’s worried about flabby thighs. You sell her by saying, ‘Your co-workers will say you look fantastic in that bikini.’ Right now, that’s all she cares about.”
Don’t talk about your features and benefits until you know exactly what the prospect cares about, what matters to them. People make monetary decisions based on personal and often self-serving emotions. No offense, but prospective customers ultimately don’t care about you or what you’re selling. They care about how it satisfies their needs and wants (especially the “wants”).
Now, Lontos is not alone in preaching the “Who cares?!!” doctrine. Many sales experts recommend a similar approach. Given that, why do so many professionals try to sell, market or convince people using an approach that turns people off?
“Because they think they’re so knowledgeable,” Lontos said. “People gravitate to something they like to sell. They gravitate to jobs that interest them, but just because you’re enthralled with something doesn’t mean others are.”
In other words, professionals can easily get so wrapped up in their profession that they fail to see it from an outsider’s perspective. Frankly, the more talented, educated and experienced you are in your profession, the more vulnerable you are to making assumptions about clients. Even if you are the most brilliant and seasoned person in your organization, remember, it’s about them. Chances are they don’t care about the things you care about.
By the way, Lontos is author of the book, I See Your Name Everywhere: Leverage the Power of the Media to Grow your Fame, Wealth and Success available on Amazon.com. You can contact Lontos and learn more about her at PamLontos.com.
Jeff Beals is an award-winning author, who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. As a professional speaker, he delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or call (402) 637-9300.
You are welcome to forward this article (with author citation) to anyone else who might benefit from it.