Start-Up Phase

How to Create a Good Sales Message

The number one communication problem that every entrepreneur has, both corporate and social, is how to create an effective sales message. What a selling message does is reduce all the plethora of marketing information to a few words that will resonate with a prospective buyer in an actual sales situation. It shifts the focus from what a product, or organization, does to what a prospect is really interested in. This is a fundamental change for most people. The problem is that it is impossible to get a group of intelligent, highly opinionated, individuals to agree on a message.

Management teams will go around in circles and never converge on a good sales message. The result is a time-consuming and very frustrating experience. To solve this problem, John invented a process he calls Main Message. Otherwise, his company would have gone out of business. The process is sophisticatedly simple. It features an overall message followed by the six key interests or concerns of a potential buyer and how an organization, or product, or candidate matches them. Why six? Very simply, he found that five were two few, and seven were too many. An actual example of a sales message for his company’s IDMS database management system at a critical moment in the company’s history is as follows:

Introducing IDMS 5.0 – The first “integrated data dictionary” driven database management system designed to address the six key data problems facing IT management, and they are:

  • Ease of update
  • Security
  • Cost
  • Control
  • Documentation
  • Access

The company positioned its main competition, namely IBM, on the defensive with this new sales message because it was the “first” to introduce this new technology. Then, it identified why it was so important to IT executives in terms that were meaningful to them.  At the same time, it moved the whole sales focus from the database management system to the importance of an integrated data dictionary. This put IBM, and the other database vendors on the defensive. This sales message would be incredibly important because IBM thought that they had out-positioned the company with a new computer announcement six months after the company went public. If IBM had succeeded, it would have resulted in a “down” quarter which would have been a disaster. However, getting the company’s management team on board with this sales message would have been impossible without the Main Message process. The reason they were on board with it is because they helped create it.

Most charitable organizations also need a good sales message because they always have to raise money to survive. However, most of their donor presentations focus on all the good things their organizations do vs what a potential donor is really interested in. Changing this focus would be key for any social entrepreneur. Using the Main Message process makes it possible. The following would be an example of a science museum’s sales message:

Museum X – The only museum that addresses the key concerns of those who believe that science and engineering are critical to the future of America, and they are:

  • The museum is national in scope
  • The museum is intimately involved in high school curriculums
  • The museum has an active teacher education program
  • The museum has effective exhibits for children
  • The museum is introducing the latest green technology in its facilities
  • The museum has an active outreach program for minorities

Such a message would be created with the museums management, development staff, and key Board members participating. Their goal would be to come up with the overall message plus the six key concerns of potential donors. A paragraph of specifics under each bullet on how the Museum does it could be included, later. Any prospective donor, upon listening to this new presentation, would be most impressed. For the first time, the donor would be on the receiving end of a crisp presentation that focused on his, or her, real interests.

Managing the Start-Up Phase

  • Ask for twice as much money as you think you will need because you will need it. Besides, it’s much easier to get the necessary funding the first time than when you go back to the well the second time.
  • Hold on to your funds; don’t waste them on fancy offices or facilities. Your funds will melt away so fast that it will make your head spin; so don’t burn them needlessly.
  • Don’t use personal funds or put your family at risk financially by borrowing on your mortgage to underwrite your company.
  • There is always a crisis; business rarely runs according to plan.
  • Barter for services.
  • Be imaginative when evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of your product or services. Build around your strengths; create a new product and or market if necessary. Many successful companies change horses in mid-stream.
  • Continuously figure out ways to cut costs. Reduce your expenditures to those items that you must have to survive vs. those nice to have.
  • Make sure that you are selling a product or service to people or companies that have money to buy.
  • There are advantages to being small. One of them is the ability to make decisions quickly and respond to a prospect’s requirements on the spot. Your big competitors can’t do this.
  • Specialize. Avoid being all things to all people.

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