Face-to-face marketing trumps mass marketing

Turn on the TV or radio, surf the Internet, open your mail (or e-mail) - what do you notice? You probably have a high volume of advertisements and marketing campaigns targeting you, begging for your attention and your business. But do you open every envelope or listen to every commercial plea? No. Why, then, would you think your customers would be any different?

Spam e-mail, blogs, instant messages, television, canned phone messages and other electronic methods of mass marketing have desensitized the American buyer to these tactics of selling. Despite all the surveys and studies into what buyers think, people don't make purchases rationally. They make buying decisions based upon emotion. A product or service is either going to make the buyer "feel" better, or rid him of "pain." Sometimes, buyers aren't even aware of the need that is causing this pain, and this is when face-to-face selling comes into play.

The necessity of closing the deal or making the sale is equally important to all sales professionals, whether drug company reps, bankers, spa retailers or auto salespeople. Regardless of who is doing the selling or what the product or service is, face-to-face selling is more effective than mass marketing.

Consider the following six things that only face-to-face communication can do:

1. Gain the buyer's attention by overcoming marketing noise
When you are in front of a prospect or client, you have the enviable position of having his or her complete attention. However, just like TV commercials, you still must get the buyer's attention immediately. Therefore, enthusiasm and energy are just as important as conviction about the merits of your product or the advantages you have over your competition. Selling face-to-face is much more powerful than being another envelope in a sea of letters.

2. Tailor the message on the fly
Your presentation to potential customers can vary based upon their specific and individual needs. For example, a family with four children may need different results from a hot tub than a retired couple. And although the hot tub you're promoting may work in both cases, face-to-face selling allows specific product features to be linked to specific buyer needs. The family may like the fact that the spa has powerful jets, but the retired couple may want gentler hydrotherapy. While ads can be customized to specific perceived needs and placed in print media targeted to specific prospects, these ads may not be received the same by different buyer behavioral types.

3. Customize a presentation to a specific buyer type
You would not sell a widget to Donald Trump in the same manner you would to Richard Simmons. While it is true that everyone is different and unique, it's also true that people tend to fall into four basic behavioral types when it comes to buying a service or product. The success (or failure) of the sales call is dependent upon the sales representative recognizing the behavioral type of the prospect, the sales message and also the appropriate communication style. The product may be the same, but in order to close the sale effectively, the approach and the message should be different to each category. Therefore, effective salespeople can tailor their face-to-face presentation styles to their clients' specific personality in order to gain their trust and acceptance.

4. Deliver the original instant message
It's been said that 75 percent of communication is nonverbal. Selling face-to-face allows you to better gauge how your client is accepting your presentation and if additional probing is necessary. Facial expressions, body posture and vocal tone and pitch, as well as other nonverbal communications, can serve as instant feedback about the effectiveness and relevancy of your presentation. This essential ability is nonexistent in mass-marketing techniques; it's like paying a basketball game with the scoreboard covered.

5. Provide immediate answersto buyer questions
While buyers can always call a toll-free number or log on to a FAQ Web page, the time to answer questions is never more opportune than during the presentation. This way, salespeople can not only overcome objections, but they can also determine if their assumptions about the buyer's needs are correct. Then, the seller can instantaneously adjust the presentation to address the buyer's unique needs.

6. Sell in real time
Face-to-face selling allows you to control the buying process instead of allowing the prospect to control the process. This allows you to control the speed and direction of the product pitch. Also, the more time that passes after the presentation, the less likely the sale will be made. The best time to make the sale is when the buyer is ready and sitting in front of you - not after the buying impulse has passed.

While mass marketing is an indispensable tool for creating awareness about your product or service, it cannot compare to face-to-face communication when it comes to making the sale or closing the deal.

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