My husband is unlike every other husband in the world in that he’s fun to golf with. I’m not a good golfer but he hits the ball long and well, leaving plenty of time for him to cart me around, pour the Bloody Marys, and most uncharacteristically of husbands golfing with their wives, patiently teach me the game. Of all the tips he has shared, one in particular not only really helped me improve my golf game, but is also solid gold for B2E reps. Once, having sent a shot sailing in the wrong direction, I insisted there must be some strange Bermuda Triangle-like magnetic/gravitational singularity in that location to have caused my ball to land so far from where I drove it. He responded with the universal law of golf physics: “The ball can only go where it is aimed.” A tiny musical triangle went “ting!” in my head. It’s so incredibly true! If the ball went there it was, by definition, aimed there.
I was so enlightened by this truth that I later pondered how it might pertain to my professional life where much to my delight I’ve discovered the very same maxim applies. Just as the ball can only go where it is aimed, your sales message can only reach the target at which it is aimed. Ting! The fault for lost connections is ours. That’s great news because if we are the problem, we are capable of fixing it! Today I have a trick for you to do just that; to sharpen up your sales aim, letting you hit your target far more often.
First, let’s define poor aim. A couple of colleagues recently asked me what I thought of their website. That’s the friend-with-a-startup equivalent of “do I look fat in these jeans?” I feigned amnesia and haven’t gotten back to them yet. The startup is teed up to address a category a school district typically has ownership over, but they limited their web content strictly to implementing at the site (school) level. If you make a Venn diagram of people that control both the funds and the decision-making they describe, you’re left with an intersecting target group of null. In other words, they are aiming at a black hole.
In addition to a product/audience mismatch, there are other ways we can aim poorly. We can be too broad, promising something vague like personalized learning without creating a detailed vision around who, what, when, where and how we can deliver. We can be too tangential in our content marketing, so that we create tons of “leads” who download our white papers and webinars, but who aren’t at all shopping for our product. In all these cases, the message is going precisely where we aimed it, but doesn’t hit pay dirt.
Adjusting your aim is actually just a matter of aligning a targeted decision-maker with a specific problem that your product solves. There’s a good exercise to figure this out. We’re going to use your real customer base to define the pinpointed problems that will become your sales talk track, email subject lines, and marketing hooks.
Take out a sheet of paper and make four columns labeled like from left to right:
Why They Bought?
Why They Had That Problem?
Now think about specific people that have purchased your product. Not necessarily the person that initiated the first look-see, but the person who really championed it and made it happen. Write their job title down in the first column. Now think hard about why the bought your solution, and no fair listing your charm. You want to describe the problem they were hoping to fix. In the third column write down why they had that problem. Now the money shot! In column four ask “why?” again. Why do they have that problem? If you can articulate that answer, you will likely have just written the most effectively targeted pitch line in your sales history.
Here’s an example. Let’s say I sell an imaginary data platform to organize student progress across all stakeholders in a district. I probably have been using a cold prospecting email to Assessment Directors saying something like, “Unify Your Assessment Data with Edu-Unify!” But in creating my sheet I start with the last sale I made which was actually to an ELL Coordinator. I’d write:
Job Title: English Language Learner Coordinator
Why They Bought: So their ELL teaching specialists can organize and share data showing progress
Why They Had That Problem: Because they don’t have access to the district gradebook system as they don’t grade the students.
Why: Because they are specialist teachers, and they report to the district, creating a communication gap with the student’s other teachers.
Granted, these are a bit lame as it’s a fake product (with an awful name), but what I’m trying to show is that when you use real implementations, you craft a sales pitch that will make the little musical triangle in like-buyers’ heads go, “ting!” My next move would be to send a cold email to ELL Coordinators with something like, “Tracking ELL Progress on One Collaborative Platform,” or “Edu-Unify Helps Teachers and ELL Specialists Team Effectively.” This is pointing the message in a more targeted way than the “data unification” campaign to Assessment Directors.
You can continue with the different buyers you’ve sold to and watch for some common ground to emerge. It’s tricky to elegantly sum up diverse use cases on your website with one overarching message, so a good rule of thumb is to find your main headlines in the common ground, and then feature 3-5 use cases about your specific job title “tings” that will each have a different audience.
Remember, our message is going where we aim it so take time to line that target up in your sites before swinging away!