If you saw "The Wolf of Wall Street" you probably remember the scene where Leonardo DiCaprio demands of his sales team, "Sell me this pen!" A couple of them fumble around, then one hot shot grabs the pen and challenges DiCaprio to write his name.
"I don't have a pen."
"Exactly. Supply and demand."
It's a cute scene, and they call back to it at the end of the film, when DiCaprio is teaching sales techniques in seminars using the same "Sell me this pen" challenge. The problem is that it's 100% wrong.
According to Jordan Belfort (the real person DiCaprio portrays in the movie), a good salesperson asks questions to learn about the prospect. You don't sell based on what YOU think is important, you sell based on what THEY think is important.
What the salesperson in the movie actually demonstrates is clever marketing. In most marketing situations, you don't have the luxury of asking your prospects questions and learning anything about them as individuals. You need to blindly present ideas that drive their demand for your offerings.
How do you determine what ideas are likely to be persuasive when you can't ask questions? One technique is to define personas that act as proxies for prospects. If you understand the needs, interests, and priorities of the persona, you can market to real prospects who fit the same general profile.
I'll be going into detail on this subject next week in a free webinar sponsored by BrightTALK. On Tuesday, December 8, I will discuss power and pitfalls of persona-based presentations as applied to demand generation webinars. The starting time is 1pm US Eastern and I asked them to hold us to 45 minutes in order to give you time to prep for your next meeting on the subsequent hour.
Back to the scene and what we can learn from it... The salesman has created a very basic persona that describes the kind of person who would be interested in the pens being offered.
"Persona Description: A person with a pressing need to write something and no writing implement available."
The moment he is able to fit DiCaprio into that definition ("Write your name on that napkin") he knows how to generate demand for his offering. "I have what you need. I have it here, now, convenient and instantly available. You can't accomplish your goal without it."
The marketing is done. Surprisingly, the movie doesn't even touch on the sales process, which would include pricing, overcoming objections, terms and conditions, delivery options, and so on. But that's not our concern as demand generators. We want to find common persuasion points we can use with personas that represent as many sales prospects as possible.
Surprisingly, most marketers define personas incorrectly for achieving this goal. Join me on Tuesday and learn what they do wrong!