power of implication
the advertising department of a midsize newspaper.
one of the most important concepts in selling,” he told me. “It’s covered
in a lot of sales seminars and books, but I’m surprised that so many
salespeople don’t realize how it can drive marketing decisions.”
What is implication? It’s a simple concept that explores how A impacts
B and how B impacts C. There is a strong emphasis on the future. Let’s
say one of your tires has low air pressure. Whether you choose to ignore
it or do something about it, there are long-term implications. If you
ignore it, you could end up with an even bigger problem, a flat tire.
If you decide to take action, the implication is that your car will
be safer and you’ll get improved gas mileage.
College football coaching legend Lou Holtz once said: “Things never
stay the same. They either get better or they get worse.”
In other words,
one thing leads to another.
“A lot of ad departments have tunnel vision,” Randall said. “They tell
their prospects, ‘Here’s what my paper can do for your business right
now.’ That approach might produce a sale, but it doesn’t drill down
to what the prospect really wants – long-range stability and success.
I encourage our sales team to take prospects down a different road.
It’s all a matter of asking the right questions.”
Here’s how implication questions can redirect a prospect’s thinking:
Advertiser: I don’t need to change my advertising.
Salesperson: How long has your current campaign been
Advertiser: About two years.
Salesperson: Are the ads working as well as they did
in the beginning?
Advertiser: Actually they’re not. We’re getting fewer
ad responses than we did then.
Salesperson: What do you think will happen to your
sales numbers if you keep running the same ads? (Implication question.)
Result: The client realizes that business could continue
to slide if there’s not a change in the advertising. That could have
a negative impact on his plans to expand the business. He agrees to
consider some new marketing ideas.
Here’s another example:
Advertiser: My new ad campaign is working pretty well.
Salesperson: That’s great news. It shows that you’re
targeting the right audience with the right message.
Salesperson: Let’s think for a moment about what could
happen if your business increased even more. What kinds of things could
you do? (Implication question.)
Advertiser: In the long run, I could add to the staff
and maybe even upgrade the showroom.
Salesperson: Why don’t we take advantage of the positive
momentum you’ve built? Right now, you’re running a quarter-page ad every
week. Let’s move that up to a half-page, which will give you even more
Result: The advertiser sees the benefits and agrees
to increase her advertising investment.
“Ideally, a sales conversation will include a progression
of implication questions. Each one can lead you closer to a sale,” Randall said.
(c) Copyright 2016
by John Foust. All rights reserved.
John Foust has conducted training programs for thousands
of newspaper advertising professionals. Many ad departments are using
his training videos to save time and get quick results from in-house
training. Email for information: firstname.lastname@example.org.