For every new client we take on, Wingman initiates a thorough creative discovery process to create our ad strategy. After learning about the company’s competition and market position, there’s one tactic in our bag of tricks that without fail provides the most practical and effective insights.
We talk with the salespeople. Okay, we go a bit further than that. We harass the salespeople. We listen in on their phone calls. We follow them on sales appointments. We even take them out to lunch. That’s because a good salesperson has nuggets of information we’d never find anywhere else. Outside salespeople and on-the-floor or over-the-phone customer service reps work in the trenches. They talk directly to customers and always have a honed, tried-and-true sales pitch forged through countless interactions.
A good salesperson will always tell us:
- How to overcome objections
- The key benefits that are most likely to make customers convert
- How to effectively position the product against the competition
- Their favorite sales hooks
According to author Jonathan Kranz, principal at Kranz Communications, “Salespeople are the ones that close the sale and, therefore, have the hard-won insights on clinchers— the things that ultimately turn prospects into buyers.” Kranz goes on to say, “Salespeople have a wealth of insight, yet so many marketers fail to ask them for it.” In most cases, a salesperson will give you more granular product information than the CEO or marketing manager. “You could talk to a million experts on how to position or sell a particular brand in a direct-response spot,” says Wingman’s Creative Director, Rich Kagan, “but you’ll learn more on one sales call in the field with a good sales guy.”
We always go on a sales appointments armed with an .mp3 recorder to document the entire sales presentation. Later, we have the recording transcribed and create a log of all the wisdom contained therein. For California Deluxe Windows, after recording a sales appointment and listening back, we discovered a key consumer benefit we wouldn’t have considered otherwise: the warranty. During a sales appointment we recorded their top sales guy, Mike, who laid out copies of their competitors’ warranties and pit them against California Deluxe Windows’ impenetrable, no-fine print warranty. Wingman took the exact pitch, distilled it to 60 seconds and created a radio spot called, “No-Fine-Print Warranty.” The spot worked.
We unrepentantly steal from salespeople. After tagging along on a sales appointment with Verengo Solar it was clear that consumers bought solar power after seeing a cost-benefit analysis of solar over their current power company. Wingman’s knee-jerk reaction was to position the company as a clean alternative to dirty power, but it was the long-term solar savings that got consumers off the fence every time. The sales guys at Intelliloan told us something the CEO didn’t. Advertising a low interest rate in our radio ads may drive more phone calls, but advertising new loan programs gave them higher quality calls that converted to loans more often.
Listening to salespeople gives you get a better ear for how to talk about a product. Trying to write a TV and radio spot with any credibility from an office in west Los Angeles is a far cry from throwing on a branded polo shirt and getting real material from actual customer interactions. The heart of successful direct-response advertising is being able to connect with people by understanding their problems and how your product provides the best solution. But most advertisers get into trouble by writing while wearing their media hats. They write ads for an audience of 100,000 instead of realizing they too are a sales guy whose real job is to connect with an audience of one.