How to Keep Buyers Urgent for Your Solution
People forget things… quickly. There’s a lot of science and research behind it. It’s the way our brains work. We learn something, even get excited about it, and then quickly move on to other thoughts and actions, often forgetting most of what we’ve learned within a few days. It happens in school, in sales training and, more importantly, with our buyers—and that’s painful.
It’s painful in sales because you can have the most engaging conversation, the best demo, the most compelling meeting, and buyers can still very efficiently forget most of what you talked about, including the pain they’re experiencing and the value you can bring. The result: long sales cycles—or worse, the project never takes flight. The buyers do nothing.
The science behind forgetting
Stay with me here. I’ll make this quick (you’ll probably forget it anyway).
Back in 1885, a guy named Hermann Ebbinghaus hypothesized that people forget on an exponential curve — meaning that, over time, people forget things they’ve learned progressively until the memory of the learned material approaches zero. It’s as if people have a gas pedal for forgetting.
Here’s what the curve looks like:
Just 20 minutes after a meeting, buyers retain only 58% of what you told them. Within 2 days, their retention drops to 28% (for my kids, it’s more like 0% after 20 minutes; they’re on the accelerated scale). Yes, those numbers are a little scary. They would be really scary if we didn’t have a way to deal with it. Fortunately, we do.
The education and training industries have been studying and dealing with this for decades now. How do they solve the problem? Refresher training, AKA systematic reviews. Let’s take a look:
By reiterating the value message quickly after your engagements, and then systematically emphasizing and re-emphasizing the key value points relating to their key pain points over time, you can overcome the human tendency for buyers to forget what they learned and prevent them from forgetting why they were so excited about your engagement. You can keep them engaged and consistently aware of the pain they’re experiencing and the value you can offer.
The formula for success
Here’s a cookbook approach for keeping buyers urgent about your value and your solution:
- Directly after your meeting—as soon as you can, summarize their pain and your value in a follow-up email. Warning: don’t pound your solution features. Instead, emphasize their pain and the fact that you can bring the outcomes they need.
- After 3 days or so, send some content (3rd party industry research works best) that relates to the issues they’re facing and emphasizes your understanding of their need for a solution.
- A week later, pick a key pain point they’re facing and focus on how you can bring the outcomes they need to address that pain.
- A few days later, schedule a follow-on meeting to discuss another key pain point discovered during the first engagement. During the meeting, be sure to also cover other areas of pain and reiterate how you can help.
- Follow up every week to 10 days with the pain you’ve learned from your engagements and value you can bring. Schedule follow-on meetings to deepen the conversations and relationship.
The formula works amazingly well. It follows the scientific theory of memory retention and works just as well with buyers as with college students preparing for a final exam. The biggest risk in most B2B sales is not from competitors; it’s from your buyers’ focus on other pressing issues. They get snowed under and forget about the value you can bring. Follow up systematically with relevant outcomes relating to key pain points to keep your buyers urgent. Your conversion rates will increase dramatically.
Hope you have your best year ever.