The 3 Questions You Must Answer to Ace Your Sales Messaging

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  • You know the value of your product or service inside and out, but you may not be quite as skilled in how to talk about it.
  • Sales messaging master Jim Karrh describes the order in which you should be answering a prospects’ questions to drive a sale naturally.
  • Discover why you should talk less if you want to come across as a brilliant conversationalist — and other tips from Jim’s sales messaging playbook.

As a sales rep, you’ve been trained to know the value of your product or service inside and out. But do you know how to convey that value using language that won’t turn off your prospects?

Jim Karrh of Karrh & Associates would bet that you don’t. 

“Really good reps offering high-value services are far more confident in the value of what they sell than how to talk about it,” he says.

If finding the right way to describe that value is something you struggle with, you need to hear what Jim shared on an enlightening episode of the INSIDE Inside Sales podcast. You may just be doing things backward! 

Your language matters

Contrary to popular belief, Jim says, sales messaging is not about a mission statement or a visionary tagline. Like many other types of interpersonal dialogue, messaging in sales is all about the quality and consistency of your conversations.

The things you say, and the order in which you say them, send a message to the listener. And when the listener is someone you’d like to do business with, you’d be wise to pay very close attention to your words and timing.

By far, the biggest language problem Jim sees is reversed messaging amongst sales reps: focusing on why the prospect should choose them and their solution first. This jump-the-gun approach is unfulfilling for the prospect because they don’t yet understand the need to make a change to their status quo. Leading with your value proposition is simply too quick — even if you add an element of urgency by bundling or dropping your price.

Worse yet, if you dive in with assumptions about the other person (using language like “I talk to lots of people just like you”), you risk making them feel like they’re just a number. People want to be unique, so allow them to tell you who they are and what they need instead.

If you’ve been guilty of these verbal faux pas, you’re not alone. Jim reminds us that we’re wired to talk about ourselves too much — it’s brain science! “We get a little chemical shot when we talk about ourselves, our passion, our product, our history, our backstory,” he says.

Not to mention, you believe in what you’re selling. That’s not a bad thing, and it’s not your fault that you want to share what you know and love. You just have to stay super self-aware and come up with a plan to avoid going off the rails with the chatter.

Luckily, Jim has already done that for you.

The three questions your prospect needs you to answer

In the same way that you may not be consciously aware of when you’re being a bit too long-winded, the person on the receiving end has some subconscious processes going on too. Most prospects have questions they need answered before they’ll make a decision, Jim says. 

Three questions, to be exact.

sales messaging

Why change?

This is the first and most critical question to address because people are naturally resistant to change. “It’s risky, it’s uncertain, it’s uncomfortable,” Jim explains. 

Your prospect might be exhausted at the mere thought of using new software or convincing their fellow stakeholders to implement a fresh training protocol. They need to really know that the effort of undergoing a big change will be worth it.

Why now?

Even if there’s a clear need for a new solution to a business’s problem, sometimes there’s no internal pressing desire to do something about it now. That doesn’t mean you should push a limited-time deal. It means you allow the prospect to come to the conclusion that it’s urgent on their own — and, ironically, that could take a little time. You’re there to help their decision take less time than it otherwise would by easing their fears of the unknown.

Why you?

Only when you’re sure the first two questions are fulfilled should you start talking about why your product or service is the best choice. The genius of Jim’s sales messaging plan is to put the meat of the classic sales pitch last. By the time you get to your bullet points, the listener is primed for them. There’s a big however to this one, though: Keep the jargon-y, industry language to a minimum!

With these three key questions top of mind, you’ll recognize that your efforts to persuade directly aren’t the only factor in whether the sale happens or not. In other words, you can relax and focus less on spouting off a script. 

To be a sales messaging pro, be a good conversationalist

Your prospect will feel your authenticity and respect you more when you’re just being human. You’ve gotta let your vulnerability and warmth come through, which could mean going against everything you think you know about conversations — especially the talking part.

But I’m a sales rep. Talking is my job.

Incessant chatter may be a stereotypical part of our roles, but Jim says we need to challenge the idea that sales is a one-sided conversation — by having more two-sided ones. Studies show that people will interpret any type of conversation as healthier if it’s 50/50. In true Dale Carnegie fashion, you’ll be seen as a brilliant conversationalist if you do one thing well: listen

“Volume of words and dominance of the conversation is not your goal,” says Jim.

Find a new way to deliver your message

If what you’re doing hasn’t been consistently working — if you’re not exceeding your quotas — it’s time to follow Jim’s advice and change up your sales messaging.

His solid steps for overcoming your brain’s limitations will help you ditch the pitch (at least at first) and move confidently into your next one-on-one with a prospect.

For more from Jim, listen to The Manage Your Message podcast or check out his book, “The Science of Customer Connections.”

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