Before embarking on my career in software sales, I sold advertising for a newspaper. It was a great opportunity to learn about different businesses and get some great insight into what made some advertisements work, while others didn’t seem to get the same response. One of those principles I learned was carried throughout my software sales career. I have also carried the same principle with me the last nine years with 2WIN! Global, partnering with software companies to provide innovative training programs to help pre-sales and sales teams execute more effectively in key client interactions. I refer to that Guiding Principle as… “The Headline”.
Think about the last time you browsed a newspaper (by browse I’m guessing that it’s likely the last newspaper you read was online). What articles did you click on? Which ones did you blow by? What advertisements did you click on, and which ones did you not even see? My guess is that the answer is that you clicked on the articles and ads that had a headline (or perhaps an image) that interested you. I would also guess that you ignored, or didn’t even register, the ones that were not of any interest.
When helping my clients in the newspaper industry create really successful advertising campaigns, the headline of the ad was always uber-critical to the ad’s success. We had to craft a headline message that was big and bold enough to get attention (and then make sure that the rest of the message in the advertisement supported the headline and was valuable to whoever was reading the ad). For example, one restaurant I worked with may have created an ad in order to get people to come in for business on Tuesday night with a headline that read…. “Dinner Specials”. We could get some traffic with that ad, but not nearly as much as we could draw with a headline like “You Will Be Talking About Tuesday’s Dinner On Wednesday Morning”. The second headline creates more intrigue, thus more people are apt to take a look and are more apt to act (as long as the supporting messages are solid).
I’ve learned that this same approach to creating headlines, using intrigue, worked great in software sales. Whether I was sending an email, making a cold call, or delivering a demonstration or presentation, my headline had a lot to do with people responding or paying attention. I also learned that generic headlines were much less effective than ones that were personalized to my target prospect. For example, a sales presentation titled by the name of my product like “Presentation On 2WIN! Software” is not going to get my audience excited about the rest of the content I plan on delivering.
However, that same sales presentation with a headline that represents my prospect and what they are looking to achieve, something like… “How ABC Company Can Increase Market Reach By 50% This Year Alone” is going to be much more engaging, and therefore set it up for them to be interested in the content I am going to be delivering (of course, my supporting content and delivery has to be good too).
Make sure to think about what headlines you are broadcasting to your prospects and customers; it may very well change your response/success rate!