As a sales professional or business owner, you face some unique challenges. One of the most important ones is the challenge of effectively communicating the features, benefits, outcomes, and experiences that your product or service delivers to customers.
We live in a time of unprecedented ‘noise’ when prospective customers are literally bombarded by new messages every moment of every day. Marketers typically approach this challenge by thinking about ways to ‘break through’ and make bigger, better noise than the other businesses seeking attention.
However, savvy salespeople know that taking the same approach with prospects up close is not a good way to build lasting relationships that lead to loyal customers. Prospects tend to respond to strong signals from afar, but when you’re meeting one-on-one or chatting on a call and trying to build rapport, there are more effective strategies.
Essential to your communications will be your commitment to tailing your message to meet each prospect’s unique circumstances. To do so, first think for a moment about what ‘tailoring’ really means. For example, consider the difference in the experience you might have between going to an outlet store to buy new clothes off the rack, versus going to a professional tailor and having clothes made-to-measure, specifically for you.
The difference goes way beyond the likelihood that one might fit more precisely than the other. In fact, it begins with the focus: instead of being on the clothes, the focus is on you.
Jesus understood intuitively that we are, in the end, self-focused by our nature, thanks to original sin, certainly, but also to our natural tendency toward self-preservation. By protecting and enhancing ourselves, we hope to be in a better position to help others.
Here are three lessons that you can apply to tailor your sales message effectively for your audience, based on the example of Jesus:
1. Tailoring begins with listening and observing.
The sales profession has long held a reputation as a field of work focused (almost exclusively) on talking. Ironically, it’s actually in the listening and observing that true, lasting sales success is built. Jesus understood this clearly.
As a result, his actions in many cases were not generic or generalized to the group, but were instead highly tailored to each person’s unique circumstances. He healed the leper, only after understanding the source of the man’s disease and the specific impact it had on his life (physically and spiritually). He turned water into wine, but only after observing — and therefore predicting – the need that would develop among those present.
2. Tailoring continues with actively participating.
Once you listen through conversation and observe through intuition and astutely paying attention, you need to become actively involved and participate with your prospect. As the adage says, you don’t understand the other person’s circumstances until you have walked a mile in his or her shoes.
When Jesus encountered a sinful woman while he was meeting with a Pharisee, he didn’t just talk with her. He allowed her to anoint him. When Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes to feed the five thousand, he acted immediately to meet a need, using whatever resources were available — including gifts that he uniquely applied in the situation. It is important to note that Jesus took action even when it appeared to be socially controversial or could lead to a misconstruing of his message.
He did so because he knew two things. First, doing what is right in the moment is always the best course of action. And second, acting now to do what is needed is what builds trust and memorable loyalty later. In your career, this means recommending a competitor if doing so truly delivers the right solution to the customer, or telling a customer if they are not ready for your product or service, and helping them start on the path they do need right now.
3. Tailoring ends with orchestrating change.
Listening and observing. Actively participating. By following these first two steps, you are building truly powerful relationships and becoming more directly and personally involved in meeting the needs of your prospects and customers alike. The third step in tailoring is to orchestrate true, lasting change for the benefit of your prospect.
When Jesus encountered Martha, the sister of the deceased man named Lazarus, he didn’t just act to bring Lazarus back to life. He also got to know Martha, addressed her needs, and took careful steps to ensure peace for her and those around him, all in preparation to bring Lazarus back from death.
In addition, Jesus instructed those around Lazarus to “lose him” from his grave clothes, which meant that they needed to personally participate in the change taking place. The experience of meaningful change is not what happens when a product or service is purchased. It is what happens when the product or service is used in a way that transforms the lives of those using it.
Do you delight in seeing your customers experience transformation as a result of using your products or services? Do you help prospects plan for successful implementation or use of the product? Do you check in after the purchase to see how things are going, and offer to ensure that they use it in the way that best meets their needs?
These three aspects of tailoring, when utilized together, will create that truly deep and lasting experience that your prospects seek, your customers crave and your competitors can’t (or most often, won’t) deliver. Follow the example of Jesus, and begin tailoring your message to meet the needs of the marketplace you serve today!