Customers aren’t hungry for long presentations—feed them information in chunks.
By Julie Hansen
I love snack-size foods. They’re cute, they’re portable, and they create the illusion I’m eating lighter. I say “illusion” because I usually end up eating as much or more than the full-size serving!
Snack-size products also give customers a relatively low-risk way to sample a product—without making a full investment in money, time, or calories.
So what does that have to do with sales?
In a selling environment where customers show an ever-increasing reluctance to invest their time and energy in reading multi-paragraph emails or sitting through long presentations or product demonstrations, it’s time to think about going “snack-size” with your sales communications.
Customers Eat It Up
More and more people are consuming content today in snack-size portions. They get their news and entertainment on demand and stay engaged only as long as they’re interested. Gone are the days of reading a newspaper from top to bottom (or reading a newspaper at all) or watching a TV program from opening to ending credits. Instead, we fast-forward through commercials, click in and out of articles, and skim emails that have too many paragraphs.
Despite this growing trend, many salespeople are still trying to force-feed long stretches of content to inattentive customers. While just 10 years ago a customer may have sat through your 30-minute sales presentation or plowed through your information-packed email, today’s customers are much more likely to avoid them all together, or mentally check out the second their interest wanes.
Snack-Size Your Sales Communications
To be successful today, you have to reconsider the way you are communicating with your customers and start aligning your content with the way they want to receive it. In other words, serve up snack-size portions, rather than the king-size bar. Let your customer guide you on how much they’re hungry for.
Here are some tips for delivering effective snack-size communications in sales.
- Keep your emails between 50-125 words.
The fact is, even if your email is full of great information, it’s likely going to be deleted if it’s more than two or three paragraphs. A recent study of nearly 40 million emails found 50-125 words to be the sweet spot that produced an average email open rate of 50%.
Of course, there are other things you can do to improve people reading your emails as well, like include a catchy subject line and make sure your first sentence is compelling.
- Present your content in chunk-size portions, not full-size.
Break your presentation or demonstration down into two- or three-minute chunks of content.
Customers will grow impatient with long monologues and creating these chunks allows them time to digest the information as well as ask questions. These chunks could be based on a topic, a feature, or a value they provide to the customer.
- Make it a flexible presentation.
Have your content down pat that allows you to seamlessly jump to a new chunk, a particular slide, or a new section within your presentation.
That way you don’t lose your customer while you’re searching around for content.
- Give your customers a choice up front.
Provide a menu of topic “chunks” for your customer to pick and choose from. Give them a preview of each—just enough information to whet their appetite—and see where they’d like to dive in.
Of course, always have the “full-size” topic ready just in case they want to go into more depth.
- Allow the flow of the conversation to guide you.
Take real-time direction from your customers. Do they seem satisfied on a particular topic or do you sense their attention is beginning to fade? Be alert to both verbal and nonverbal cues and respond accordingly.
To successfully engage with today’s busy customers, you need to adapt to the way they consume content today and serve up snack-size portions. That way, customers will be more attentive, more engaged, and—who knows?—end up craving the full-size!
Julie Hansen is a professional sales trainer, speaker, and author. She authored the book ACT Like a Sales Pro in 2011 and has been featured in Selling Power, Entrepreneur, and Sales and Service Excellence magazines. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and www.actingforsales.com