Thomas Davenport’s 2001 book, The Attention Economy: Understanding the New Currency of Business, seems even more important today in a world of dizzying amounts of data and hyper-accelerated news cycles.
In terms of ideas, there has been a lot written on being more provocative, insightful or challenging on sales calls. The entire line of thinking has a lot of merit and it is a great addition to one’s toolbox. The issue is if it’s your only approach, which is nicely summarized by Abraham Maslow’s quote:
“If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”
So what are some other ideas for capturing a prospect’s attention besides being more provocative?
Think Big. A lot of advertisers make dramatic statements to get your attention. For consumers it may be about quickly losing weight; for businesses, it may be about doubling their revenue. Thinking small is unlikely to get noticed – a 1 or 2% change is unlikely to elicit a strong response. The next one billion dollar idea might …
Be Personal. Generic and undifferentiated messages/pitches are almost a sign of disrespect. It’s sort of like showing up late all the time – not respecting someone’s time and attention. One-to-one marketing is so appealing because we want someone to “talk” directly to us … to look us straight in the eye … to empathically listen to us. For many people, their main question is “What’s in it for me?”
Be Passionate. We follow and love energy. Passion is focused energy and it’s infectious. You want to be near it and feed off it. I think it’s best summarized by one of our Top Performer interviewees, Sonny Thielbar:
“Find something that you absolutely love and want to talk about every day, even when you’re not on the clock … People are drawn to passion. Find this in your life and it will work.”
Once you have someone’s attention, keeping it is another matter. You have to amplify the above and have something to say beyond the typical platitudes and empty slogans.
For most sellers, being a walking brochure just doesn’t cut it. First you have to get a prospect’s attention, and second you have to say something that is relevant and insightful, which could be based on your research about the company and/or via some initial discovery.