Selling In A World Of 8 Second Attention Spans

The average human attention span is eight seconds. You know who has a longer attention span than us? Goldfish. They have nine second attention spans. That’s an alarming number for sales folks.

If you have been in sales even for as little as a year or two you have already created the most valuable business building asset you’ll ever have—your database of clients and high quality prospects. But how are you supposed to stay connected to your prospects and customers if their attention span is so low?

Taking the time and effort to keep in contact with and develop existing/past clients and quality prospects will grow your business through new direct and add-on sales as well as generating referrals to qualified prospects they can introduce you to.

Unfortunately, rather than mining their database for new sales and direct introductions to other high quality prospects, most sellers are busy destroying their image and value with those in their database by teaching them to ignore the seller because all the seller does is waste their time.

We salespeople often think that keeping in touch with past clients is little more than an occasional phone call or email and thus we give it little thought.  Most of our communications with our database are simply direct pitches for new business or a brief note asking if there is anything we can do for them.  From their point of view our “communication” was nothing more than a waste of their time. Keeping in mind the very short attention spans, a sales person’s job gets even harder.

Studies indicate that in order to keep your name at the top of your customer’s mind, you need to “touch” your customer a minimum of 12-14 times per year—more if at all possible.

To keep your name at the top of your customer’s mind, you need to “reach” them a minimum of 12-14 times per year. Tweet This!

A touch is any communication from you to your client—email, telephone call, snail mail, postcard, holiday card, in-person meeting, or any other method of getting in front of your customer.  If you are communicating with the client, you are touching them.

What is the most effective way to touch your database?  Studies have shown that there is not a “best” way but rather, the most effective communication programs enlist multiple communication formats.

Sending 14 emails a year is better than nothing, but it isn’t the best way; neither would be sending 14 snail mail pieces–or making 14 phone calls. However, constructing a campaign using a combination of these methods could be a very effective program.  For instance, setting a marketing calendar to send 4 postcards per year, 6 emails, 2 snail mail letters, one phone call, and one holiday card during the course of the year allows you to touch your client approximately once every 3 ½ weeks during the year.

The content of your communication is as critical as the fact that you touched them. 

When you communicate with a current/past client or prospect, the fact that you “touched” them is not necessarily a good thing in and of itself.

Many traditional marketers may disagree.  Much traditional thinking says that any time you get your name in front a client is a positive.  However, is a 3-second trip to the wastebasket for your expensive postcard or letter the best use of your money?  And is that the impression you want to make on your client–thinking of you as just another piece of junk mail?

Whether or not your communication campaign is effective will depend on what you are communicating.  If you send junk just to send something, your customer will quickly learn to ignore you and your communications and everything you send will take that 3-secnd trip to the trash.  On the other hand, if your communications offer something of interest and value, you will train your client to pay attention to you, to read your letters, take your phone calls, open your emails.

Before any communication ask yourself, “Does this add value for me (that is, is it ‘me’ oriented, or does it add value for my client (client-oriented)?”  If the answer isn’t that it primarily adds value for your client, you have a communication worthy of going straight to the trash.

Which would you rather have:  a client that ignores you because you waste their time or one that pays attention to you because you bring value to them?

To train your clients to pay attention, and, therefore, to keep you at the top of their mind, you must figure out how to send them communications that give them value.  Can you provide them an annual or semi-annual update on their purchase?  Can you send or email them articles of interest that relate to their purchase, their business, or an interest of theirs?  What you send does not have to be large or costly—it just needs to be of value to the recipient.

Think about what you are sending and what it will—or will not—communicate about you and your business.  If you are not sure you are bringing value, you probably aren’t.  Marketing to your client database will bring in more sales more consistently than any other sales activity you can perform—if done correctly just as it can destroy those sales if you teach your database to ignore you.

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