By: Michael Cooney
A client recently requested that we prepare a sales brochure for a new real estate investment offering. Through this offering, prospective investors have the opportunity to invest in multifamily units (apartment complexes) so they can earn both guaranteed interest and, when the property is sold 8 – 10 years later, share in the net profits from the sale. Minimum buy-in is $250,000.
I’m nearly finished writing it, with about 6,000 words so far, or, about 15 pages of text. In one way or another, every section is meant to bolster one single concept. This concept is the most important aspect of “closing” any sale. It is so important, in fact, that you won’t be able to sell much without it.
Curious? Then please keep reading. In this month’s column, I’ll tell you what it is, and how you can use it to your benefit.
When you’re asking someone to hand over a quarter of a million dollars or more, what is the single most important idea this brochure must convey? Is it the profit potential? The quality of the buildings? The amount of time required for the payoff? What precisely is the most critical factor here? It can be summed up in one word: Trust.
If you don’t trust someone first, do claims of riches matter? Regardless of how large the profits you may earn, would you write a check for a quarter million without really trusting the other party? Of course you wouldn’t.
Since that’s true, how do you convey trust in your sales materials? When I write a brochure, it always contains a series of what I call “trust-building elements.” Many of these are very subtle; some are more obvious. Each plays an important role. Each must lead the reader step-by-step towards belief in the integrity of the company and it’s officers.
Here are some of the primary ones you can implement when you update your sales materials.
Remember that customers don’t buy from companies. They buy from people. Therefore, you should put a face on your company and on your brochure. With a personal note from, and photo of, the person at the top, you quickly create a human bond. The note should be a sincere, heartfelt message addressing your business philosophy or stating why you’re a good company to do business with. I like to simply begin with “Dear Friend.”
Point out how your product or service is different, unique, special, or advantageous to buyers. Most brochures don’t address this with anything more than broad generalities. Specifics are more believable and therefore build trust. Instead of stating “The frame is made from steel tubing” be more specific and tell the reader “The frame is made from the finest .090 inch chrome-moly steel tubing. Many of our competitors only use .065 inch mild steel tubing.” Now you’re talking!
Back up your claims with research. Claims alone can ring hollow. Anyone can say anything. When backed up by respected research, or test results, or independent data, your claims become facts in the minds of your prospects. When possible, find or conduct appropriate research.
No one expects perfection; they do expect the truth. Many will advise you to only state your “positives.” This isn’t realistic and can even create suspicion. Instead, admit an obvious weakness, but frame it in a positive manner: “We’re sorry that this item is frequently out of stock but we’re doing our best to get more—it’s just too popular!” Your prospect will respect your openness. Admitting a weakness builds the perception that you have nothing to hide, and adds to the credibility of the rest of your statements.
“Credential-ize” your staff. If you and your staff have specialized education or expertise, point out the details. Whether you are in services, manufacturing, retail, or anything else, credentials count. Does your shop foreman have 15 years experience as a master welder? Are you certified in a particular area of study or skills? Whether it’s specialized education or experience, your expertise counts towards building trust. As in the second point above, be specific.
After all is said and done, successful selling is based on an understanding of human nature. What makes a prospect choose one product or company over another? The answer to that is often complex. However, the foundation of all successful sales operations is the ability to create a feeling of trust in the prospect. Look carefully at your sales materials. The more truthful trust-building elements they contain, the better your results will be.
Michael Cooney, co-founder, Global Development, a marketing and advertising consulting group