Dale Merrill: Strikingly Different Selling
Dale Merrill is global managing director of FranklinCovey’s sales performance practice, which helps clients with the skills needed to increase revenues and profitability. He knows a thing or two about selling–not just from his own experience, but from extensive research he has conducted.
The research was inspired by the struggles his clients were having in conducting meaningful customer meetings and achieving conversions. What he and his team found, after observing over 1,700 customer meetings with over 2,800 of the top sales professionals around the world, was eye-opening.
The Problem With Selling
The main problem, Dale found, was a disconnect between how sales professionals see their meetings and how their clients do. By and large, even if the sales representative thinks the meeting went well, the clients believe it was a waste of time, because they didn’t have the dialogue they were seeking.
In breaking down the issues further, Dale found three main things that sales professionals do wrong in the eyes of their clients:
- Sales professionals talk too much, often about themselves, the company, and its people and leadership.
- Alternatively, some sales professionals turn the meeting into an interrogation session with the client, which clients dislike.
- Sales professionals don’t differentiate themselves–it’s difficult to tell one vendor from another.
On the basis of these findings, Dale wrote a book, Strikingly Different Selling, about six vital skills sales professionals need to set themselves apart from the crowd of lookalike vendors. Dale was interviewed recently in our podcast, Sales Lead Dog.
Strikingly Different Selling
In the interview, Dale goes in depth about two of the six skills described in the book.
Capture Attention with Verbal Billboards
Well-designed outdoor advertising captures the attention of viewers. Similarly, sales professionals need to do something to capture the attention of their potential clients. The key to doing this is by bringing effective contrast in comparison to their competitors. Successful contrast is:
- Relevant: Focused on what matters most to the client
- Distinct: Shows the client something different or better than what they have now
- Memorable: Gives the client something easy to share and hard to forget, like a catchy tune that stays with you all day.
One of the best ways to achieve successful contrast is by using From-To comparisons, which describe the client’s current state (From) in comparison with the desired future state (To).
Create Excitement with Movie Trailers
Among all industries, the motion-picture industry has had the most success in generating excitement around its products, by producing effective trailers for their feature films. Effective movie trailers are those that
- Capture attention quickly
- Draw viewers into the story, through rich visuals and well-known actors without giving away too much of the story
- Include a call to action (“coming soon to theaters everywhere” is a subtle way of saying “come see this movie, it’s showing at a theater near you.”)
Sales professionals can create “movie trailers”–presentations of up to 90 seconds that grab the client’s attention and give them enough information to generate excitement about the product or service. This approach is a strong differentiator and works at any stage of the sales cycle.
The modern business world is marked by increasing communication channels (email, web, social media) and decreasing attention spans. “It’s tough to stand out in a three-second world,” says Dale. The only way to win is to be strikingly different.
Dale’s book describes more essential skills and practical ways to apply them, backed up by numerous success stories. To learn more, listen to Dale’s interview on the Sales Lead Dog podcast.