Joe Sugarman's Triggers - Brain Surgery for Dummies
A beautiful example of the power of the next trigger took place at the airport in Maui, Hawaii, in 1998. I was on United Airlines flight 49 to San Francisco.
When I arrived at the gate to board, I noticed a few people asking for their money back at the check-in desk. I also observed that the waiting lounge was quite crowded.
When I approached one of the ground personnel at the gate to inquire what was happening, I was told that there was a part on the plane that wasn’t working and that nobody could board the airplane. “We can’t even fix the part and we even have to keep the passengers off the plane while it is being fueled,” was the reply.
Then the ground person picked up the microphone and made the following statement, “Ladies and gentlemen. The pilot is too busy doing his final flight check to explain what is wrong with the airplane. He mentioned that if anybody wanted to get off the plane, they may do so.”
At this point, there was a rush of passengers—maybe 20 of them—running up to the
counter to cancel their tickets and get off the airplane. “Whew,” I thought, “what’s going on?”
The rest of the passengers’ faces showed great concern in the wake of the announcement. I asked the man who had just made the announcement, “What actually is wrong?”
“It’s the APU or EPU or something like that and it’s broke so we have to keep the airplane running and people are thinking that this part will affect their safety. And the pilot won’t step out of the cockpit to say anything.”
I looked at the frustrated man and said, “May I make an announcement? I’m a pilot.”
He looked at me, almost relieved, and handed me the microphone. “Go ahead.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention?” I announced as the entire lounge
hushed to silence. “I’m a passenger on this flight just as you are. But I’m also a pilot and I think I can shed a little light on what is happening. When the airplane taxis into the gate, to conserve fuel it is plugged into another electrical power source. Somebody runs up to the airplane and plugs this huge plug into the belly of the airplane. That plug is from an APU or ‘auxiliary power unit.’ The plug is the APU plug.
“Apparently the APU is not functioning, so the ground crew must keep the engines running while they fuel the tanks. By law, you can’t board the plane while it is being fueled if the engines are running.
“There is nothing wrong with the plane. It is perfectly safe. In fact, the pilots are bigger chickens than any of us passengers and won’t fly this ship if it doesn’t check out perfectly.
“You can feel perfectly safe flying this plane. Like I said, I’m a passenger just like you are and I don’t work for United either. But I do know that you’ll have a safe flight to San Francisco. Thank you.”
At that moment the entire lounge burst out in applause. Relief came across the faces of those concerned passengers who a few minutes ago didn’t know what to do. And the line of passengers waiting at the counter to cancel their flights just filtered away.
A few of the flight attendants came up to me and thanked me, “You really provided us with incredible damage control.” And one passenger commented, “I don’t know what you do, but whatever it is you should be in communications.”
I had just saved United Airlines thousands of dollars in canceled reservations. I had saved a lot of passengers from plenty of worry and concern and had helped the ground personnel straighten out a confusing situation.
As a result of the power of my credibility, I was able to totally turn around the attitude of the passengers. Credibility is indeed a powerful trigger.
If you convey honesty and integrity in your message, chances are you’ve gone a long way toward establishing your credibility. However credibility is not just honesty and integrity.
Credibility is being believable. When I got up there to make my announcement, I was a pilot and a passenger who had knowledge to share. I was credible. The pilot would have been, too, but he wasn’t available. The ground personnel were not knowledgeable and thus created a near-calamity.
Credibility also means truthfulness. Does the consumer really believe you? Rash
statements, clichés, and some exaggerations will remove any credibility your offer might have had.
One of the biggest factors that can affect credibility is not resolving all the objections that are raised in your prospects’ minds so that they think you’re hiding something or avoiding an obvious fault of the product or service. You need to raise all objections and resolve them.
You are, in essence, sensing the next question the prospect may come up with and
answering it in a straightforward, honest, and credible way. The integrity of your product, your offer, and your self are all on the line, and unless you convey the highest credibility in your presentation, your prospects will not feel comfortable buying from you.
When I appear on QVC—the TV home shopping channel—it is easy to sell a difficult
product that normally would require a lot of credibility. The reason: QVC already has a lot of credibility with its customers. If a product is being offered on QVC, it must be good. It must have the quality that customers have come to expect. Chances are the product will be bought by somebody who has bought product from QVC before and already feels that the company is a very credible concern. In short, I’ve piggy-backed my product onto QVC’s credibility, and the combination of QVC’s credibility and my product’s credibility is pretty powerful.
The effect of credibility also extends to the magazines or newspapers in which I advertise. If I advertise my product in The Wall Street Journal, I am piggy-backing onto their credibility and their constant vigilance, making sure their readers aren’t being taken advantage of. On the other hand, if I placed that same ad in the National Enquirer, I take on the credibility—or lack thereof—that this publication has established with readers. Again, credibility is affected by the environment in which you are selling. The same holds true in a personal selling situation.
You can also enhance credibility through the use of a brand-name product. For example, if I’m offering an electronic product by the name of Yorx with the exact same features as one whose brand name is Sony, which one has more credibility? The Sony would probably sell better even if it were at a higher price.
Adding an appropriate celebrity endorser is another effective way to enhance credibility. The name of a company can, too. There was a company by the name of The Tool Shack that sold computers. This company’s name actually detracted from the credibility of the product they were selling. We once ran the same ad in The Wall Street Journal to test the effect of our JS&A brand name against one of our lesser known names—Consumers Hero. In the test, the JS&A ad far outpulled our other ad. Only the name of the company was different.
Sometimes a city or state can add credibility. That’s why some companies locate in larger cities. If I were in publishing, I would want my offices in New York City—the publishing capital of the world. If I was marketing a perfume, I would want offices in London, Paris, New York, and Beverly Hills.
If I had to go in for brain surgery, I would want a top brain surgeon with impressive
credentials—not somebody who walks in with a book entitled Brain Surgery for Dummies.
The credentials, the top people, and even the spokesperson for a company are all important in establishing credibility.
One of the techniques I used in my mail order ads to build credibility was inserting a
technical explanation to add a certain expertise to my advertising message. A good example of this technique is the following caption, which I wrote for a picture of the integrated circuit in a watch:
A pin points to the new decoder/driver integrated circuit which takes the input from
the oscillator countdown integrated circuit and computes the time while driving the
display. This single space-age device replaces thousands of solid-state circuits and
provides the utmost reliability—-all unique to Sensor.
Very few people would be able to understand this technical commentary. In fact, when I sent the ad to the manufacturer for approval, he called my attention to the caption under the picture and said, “What you wrote there is correct but who is going to understand it? Why did you even use it?”
Providing a technical explanation which the reader may not understand shows that we really did our research—if we say it’s good, knowing what we know, then it must be good. It gives the buyer confidence that he or she is indeed dealing with an expert. (Incidentally, the watch was one of our best-selling products.)
The product does not have to be a very technical product for you to come up with a
technical explanation. For example, Frank Schultz wrote an ad after he had attended my seminar. How simple a commodity is grapefruit? Yet in the ad, he talked about his quality control procedures and how he won’t accept grapefruit that had “sheep nose,” which he defined as having a bulge on the stem. He was able to include a technical explanation about grapefruit to demonstrate his expertise.
In a mail order ad or in person, technical explanations can add a great deal of credibility, but you must make sure that you indeed become an expert, and your statements must be accurate. If not, the consumer will see right through the ploy.
This technique could be equally effective in a sales presentation if it is used to establish the credibility and expertise of the salesperson and if the material presented is relevant to the sale. However, using this technique just for the sake of using it may have a countereffect and reduce your credibility. And Overuse of technical explanations will only put distance between you and the prospect as the prospect may glaze over and quickly enter a daydream state.
There are a lot of ways to add credibility, and realizing this is important when you’re crafting your sales presentation and creating the selling environment for your product. Use the methods explained here as a checklist to determine which techniques make sense for what you are selling, and then use them discreetly. They are indeed very powerful when included in a well-crafted sales presentation.
Trigger 14: Credibility
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