Selling the Invisible notes and summary

There are times when I read a book that really changes the game. Either the information in the book does it, or the excitement I get from reading the book does it. In this case, it is both.

I have now read three books by Harry Beckwith. They are all very similar. The book Selling the Invisible which is a New York Times Business bestseller and rightfully so, is by far the best. I guess that is why it is a bestseller.

Like all of my quasi book summaries and notes. Below are my highlights from the book. My takeaways so to speak.

These notes are directly pulled from the book. Read the damn book though. If you want to change the game in sales and in marketing, read the book.

Almost three in four Americans work in service companies.

America is a service economy with a product marketing model. Services are not products, and service marketing is not product marketing.

When you buy a haircut you cannot see it before you buy it or try it out. It is a service.

Most prospects are shaking with worry. Your marketing must start; with a clear understanding of that worried soul.

Most doctors do not buy pacemakers; they buy that expert pacemaker salesperson who can go into the OR and advise on the device, procedure, and programming. Pacemaker buyers buy a service.

If you sell software, your core product is the software, but that critical part of your product is all the augmentations, the documentation, toll-free services, publications, upgrades, and support and other services. Your users are buying a service.

Faced with products just like their competitive products, today’s product marketers typically have two choices; reduce cost or add value.

This book is all for all those service marketers: the 80 percent of us who do not manufacture products and the other 20 percent who do.

In such a complex world there is nothing more powerful than simplicity.

This is a how to think book.

The core of service marketing is the service itself.

Get better reality.

Too often service, sucks.

Before you write an ad, rent a list, dash off a press release— FIX your service.

The Average American thinks he isn’t”, someone once said. Psychologists have proved it. We think we are better than we are. When researchers asked students to rate their ability to get along with others, 60 percent rated themselves in the top 10 percent. Ninety-four percent of university professors say they are doing a better job than their average colleague. Most men think they are good-looking.

Most companies think they offer great service. The chances are they are not.

Marketing is the brains of service marketing. If the brain fails, the heart soon will fail.

Stage 1 of business: meet acceptable standards

Stage 2 differentiation of your product because competitors have entered.

Stage 3 (few companies enter this stage) Go beyond what customers ever thought about. Disney. Apple. Lexus with heated seats and all of the other bells and whistles. Surprise the customer.

Create the possible service, don’t just create what the market needs and wants. Create what it could love.

People won’t tell you what you are doing wrong. Your prospects won’t tell you. Clients wont tell you, Your spouse won’t tell you. So how do you improve? ASK

Phone surveys produce more revealing information than in person surveys. On the phone people are willing to open up and give their real opinion and the information you need.

Don’t ask someone what they don’t like. People don’t want to answer because they won’t want to admit that they made a mistake.

Everyone in your company is responsible for marketing your company.

So much of what passes for brilliant insight in helping a company is reporting what everyone in that company could see, if only they could still see clearly. It’s hard to see the real scope of your business. Ask for help.

The walls in a business do more than keep the cold air out. They seem to block out clear vision of the world.

Every act is a marketing act. Make every employee a marketing person.

In planning your marketing, don’t just think of your business. Think of your skills.

People don’t buy hamburgers from McDonald’s, they are buying an experience.

Find out what clients are really buying.

Clients are experts at knowing if they feel valued

In most professional services, you are not really selling expertise, because expertise is assumed, and because your prospect cannot intelligently evaluate your expertise anyway. Instead you are selling a relationship. And in most cases this is where you need the most work. If you’re selling a service, you’re selling a relationship.

All people crave one thing, and this is appreciation. Before you try to satisfy the client, understand and satisfy the person.

With a few exceptions, companies are not battling to share that market. They are battling to create it: to get prospects to want to use their service instead of doing NOTHING or performing the service THEMSELVES.

If you implicitly criticize your competitors, you aggravate your worst problem: the prospects doubt that anyone in your industry can provide the service and value the prospects needs. Your real competitor is often sitting across the table.

Go where the competition ain’t. It isn’t only location it could be in a vertical.

Every service company should have a director of technology who studies and regularly tells management how new technologies can be used for competitive advantage.

Be second to none in all of your technologies.

Service businesses are about relationships. Relationships are about feelings. In good ones, the feelings are good, and in bad ones, they are bad.

Work performs a social function, most people want to be in office for the social interaction.

Even if you can identify and predict people’s attitudes, it’s not that helpful, because behaviors don’t always follow attitudes.

There are two tragedies in life: One is to not get your hearts desire. The other is to get it.

Accept the limitation of planning.

Second: don’t value planning for its result. The greatest value of the plan is the process, the thinking that went in to it.

Third: don’t plan your future. Plan your people. Develop people and skills.

Tactics drive strategy.

Todays good idea almost always beat tomorrows better one.

It appears that organizations actually are subject to the law that governs sharks: If a shark does not move, it cannot breathe. And it dies.

Think dumb.

Too often the path to perfection leads to procrastination. Don’t let perfect ruin good.

Any ideal might fail. If you’re doing anything worthwhile at all, you’ll suffer a dozen failures.

Most organizations work like groups of apes which we evolved. The alphas dictate what the group does and thinks. Alphas are not better at making decisions, they are better at taking control.

Appeal only to a prospects reason, and you may have no appeal at all.

People choose what seems most familiar. We tend to choose the one we hear the most about. even though the truth is that more people die from stomach cancer than car accidents.

This is because of human trait called attribute for getting. You have to make yourself familiar to your clients.

People don’t look to make the superiors choice, they want to avoid making a bad choice. Forget looking like the superior choice. Make yourself an excellent choice. Then eliminate anything that might make you a bad choice.

People remember the first and last impressions, but forget the middle. The rule of last impressions is reflected in dozens of ways. Consider apologies and forgiveness, for example. The last impression a person makes, by apologizing, often obscures the persons memory of the event that led to the apology.

Build quality into your service but make it less risky too.

The best thing you can do for a prospect is eliminate their fear. Offer a trial period or a test project.

Rather than hide your weakness, admit them. Tell the truth event if it hurts, it will help.

The more similar the services, the more important the differences.

You must position yourself in your prospects mind.
Your position should be singular: one simple message.
Your position must set you apart from your competitors.
You must sacrifice. You cannot be all things to all people, you must focus on one thing.
Stand for one distinctive thing that will give you a competitive advantage.

Rather than sacrificing opportunities, a narrow focus creates opportunities. To broaden your appeal, narrow your position.

In your service, whats the hardest task? Position yourself as the expert at this task; and you’ll have lesser logic in your corner.

We as people associate and judge. We assume prettier people are smarter and more put together. But it isn’t always true. That is why it is important to say one thing you are good at, because people will associate with many.

If people see differences in products such as catsups, flour, pickles, and sugar which are all identical, then people will definitely see differences in your services.

No company can position its self as anything. You can focus on one thing, but ultimately the market and the customers put you in your position. Dont fight it.

Avis knew they couldn’t be number one. So instead they said they were number 2. And said “We try Harder”. This allowed their business to grow.

Positioning Statement:

Who are you:
What business are you in?
Whom do you serve?
What need? What are the special needs of the people you serve?
Against whom: With whom are you competing?
Whats different: What make you different from those competitors?
SO: Whats the benefit: What unique benefit does a client derive from your service?
Example: Bloomingdale’s

Bloomingdale’s
Fashion focused department stores.
trend conscious, upper middle class shoppers.
looking for high-end products
Unlike other department stores
Bloomingdale’s provides unique merchandise in a theatrical setting
make shopping entertaining
Choose a position that will reposition your competitors, then move a step back toward the middle to clinch the sale.

You are what you are.

If no prospect can describe your position, you don’t have one.

If you think you can afford not to focus, think of Sears.

No matter how skilled you are, you must focus your skills.

Timberland was struggling in the early 1980’s. The company made a good boat type shoe and priced it below the leader, Topsiders. A great product for the price, but not a good business. Then Timberland did something fairly simple. It increased its price to be well above Topsiders. Sales boomed. Dont assume logical pricing is smart pricing. Maybe your price, which makes you look like a good value, actually makes you look second-rate.

If no one complains about your price, it’s too low.

If almost everyone complains, it’s too high.

Fifteen to 20 percent of people will complain about any price. Some want a deal. Others are mistrustful and assume every price is overstated. Still others want to get the price they had in their mind when they approached you, because it’s the price they hoped for an already have budgeted in their mind. So throw out the group that will object no matter what price. Then ask: In the remaining cases how often do I encounter resistance. Resistance in 10 percent of the remaining cases for a total of 20 percent is about right. When it starts to exceed 25 percent, scale back.

Setting your price is like setting a screw. A little resistance is a good sign.

If you are the high-priced provider, most people assume you offer the best quality. If you are the low-cost provider, most people assume you deliver an acceptable product at the lowest cost, also a desirable position. But if your price in the middle, what you are saying is “We’re not the best, and neither is our price, but both our service and price are pretty good.” Not a very compelling message.

Cutting costs require little imagination.

There is nothing unique about pricing. Be unique.

What is talent worth and why is some worth so much? What can you reasonable charge?

Dont charge by the hour. Charge by the years. Pablo Picasso.

If your primary selling position is good value, you have no position. Value is not a competitive position. Value is why every service company promises. In services, value is a given. And given are not viable competitive positions.

If good value is the first thing you communicate, you won’t be effective.

if good value is your best position, improve your service.

A name like Creative Design contradicts itself. The name after all, could not be less creative.

Never choose a name that describes something that everyone expects from the service. The name will be generic, forgettable, and meaningless.

If you need a name for your service, start with your own.

A brand is more than a symbol. In the publics eye, a brand is a warranty.

Customers will buy brands sight unseen, so brand names are less expensive to sell.

As time shrinks, the importance of brands increases. And time in America is shrinking; companies have down sized their staffs and upsized the workloads of all the survivors. This people need shortcuts every waking minute. They turn to service and brand products.

Your greatest competition is not your competition. It is indifference.

Saying many things usually communicates nothing.

Give me one good reason to buy. Not Ten. You can’t sell a confused person.

People are interested in other people, and their stories.

Stereotypes: Accountants are humorless. Lawyers are greedy. Collections agencies are bullies. Doctors keep you waiting. Attack your first weakness, the thing you are known for.

37 percent of people say doctors lack a genuine interest in their patients. But patient view the relationship side as so critical, there’s even a name for it, bedside manner, they think medicine is failing as a service.

How often are you looking for the best service? The best baby sitter, the best dry cleaners, the best tax adviser? Not often. How often do you know the best when you find it? Never. How long are you willing to look for the best? (not long) Nobody is looking for the best. You aren’t. So convey that you are good and people will buy.

People notice marketing communications that refuse to strain the truth because people notice the unusual, and understatement is unusual.

People hear what they see. Let them see greatness.

People trust their eyes before they will every trust your words.

The industry that best understands the importance of visualizing the invisible offers the least visible service of all. insurance. Prudential has its Rock Of Gibraltar. Travelers as its Umbrella. Allstates has its good hands. Transamerica has its tower. Each uses a visual metaphor. Make sure people see who you are.

Restaurants are not in the food business, they are in the entrainment business. People go there for the experience.

If you are selling something complex, simplify it with a metaphor.

Of course you are committed to excellence. People don’t listen to clichés. Get rid of them.

Get to your point or you will never get to a close.

Most presenters don’t know what their point is. Tell people one thing. Why they should buy from you instead of someone else.

There is no such thing as an uninteresting subject, only an uninteresting person.

Find out what they want.

Find out what they need.

Find out who they are.

Missions statements are for you. Keep them private.

Revlon founder said this: In the factories we make perfume. In the Stores we sell hope.

People are buying happiness or the hope for it.

Dont make a client think you can do more than you can actually do.

A customers expectation is the GAP between what the customer expects and what the customer gets.

There is no such thing as too often, too grateful, too warm, or too appreciative.

Say PM and deliver AM.

To fix sales people, fix your message. If they don’t believe, it is your fault that your marketing doesn’t make them believe.

Sales is risking yourself. Nobody likes to risk themselves, but that is what sales people do daily. Rejection.

Services are human. Their successes depend on the relationships of people. People are human, frustrating, unpredictable, temperamental, often irrational, and occasionally half mad. But you can spot patterns in people. The more you can see the patterns and better understand people, the more you will succeed.

REMINDER: BUY THE BOOK.

To your success and your future.

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