Messages that Matter: The First Time Right Rule

 

Posted By Dr. Tom Sant | Jan 26, 2012

 

"The First Time Right" Rule

The most important rule for communicating your sales message, in my opinion, is the "first time right" rule.

It's a simple concept: The first time somebody reads or hears your message, they get it right. There's no ambiguity, no vagueness, no confusion in your message. They never have to go back and re-read the sentence or paragraph to try to figure out what you meant.

When people who are trying to make a buying decision encounter a message that they don't understand, alarm bells start ringing. They're not inclined to shove wads of cash at you or to blithely sign your contract when they don't know what the heck you're talking about.

For example, can you read this and feel confident you're getting it right the first time?

"The fee will be based upon the sum of the fee band charges and the top band in which the final agree rent lies is to be apportioned and added to the sum of the lower bands."

Say what?

Violating the "first time right" rule isn't just a matter of poorly constructed sentences. Often it's a matter of not writing to our audience. Instead, we write something that we understand and just assume that the customer will understand it, too. After working with sales and proposal teams for nearly 30 years, I know that people almost always tend to overestimate their customer's level of understanding. We use jargon and acronyms that the customer doesn't recognize. We make assumptions that seem like gaps in logic to them. We natter on without focus because to us the message is so obvious there's really no point in taking the time to spell it out.

Your Prospects Have No Idea What the Xbam Model J Is

Even our product names are a source of confusion for people outside the firm. We all know what the Xbam Model J is and what remarkable features it has to offer, but that name doesn't mean a thing to our prospects. That's why I always recommend that you explain what your solution will do for the customer before you tell them what it is. Focus on the functional benefit you are delivering before you discuss execution.

For example, consider this solution recommendation:

The Xbam Model J is a multi-modal system that aggregates data from multiple sources to present a virtual dashboard to support financial decision making.

Does that sentence just shout value and relevance to you? No, probably not. How about this version?

Your financial leaders depend on information from a wide variety of sources. The challenge they face is to combine all of that data and make sense of it quickly, using key performance indicators to show market trends and to identify problem areas with working capital and cash flow. That's exactly what our newly designed financial dashboard does. The Xbam Model J combines data from multiple sources, regardless of the original format, and displays it so that your executives can understand it and use it quickly.

It's longer, obviously. But it's also much clearer and it's easier for somebody who doesn't work in product development at Xbam to understand. Admittedly, it's good to be concise. But it's even better to be clear.

If you would like some help in creating sales messages that your customers will understand the first time they read them, call us. At Qvidian we have years of experience and proven methods to help you make your point. To find out how we do all that, call for a free, no obligation demo of the Qvidian sales enablement products that are right for you.

Subscribe Today for Even More

Subscribe to Messages That Matter, Dr. Tom Sant's award-winning email newsletter, designed to help improve your business communication skills and proposal writing.