By Andy Paul
In 1971, Herbert Simon, an economist at Carnegie-Mellon University, and a future Nobel Prize winner in Economics, wrote a very accurate description of what the information revolution would look like when it occurred 25 years in the future. And he forecast the impact that the ready availability of seemingly endless quantities of information would have upon our ability to process and use it.
While Simon wasn’t specifically addressing the selling and buying of products and services, the conclusions he drew are certainly applicable in today’s sales environment.
In a paper published in 1971 Simon wrote:”..in an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.
What Simon was describing was a situation based on the laws of economics. Namely, that the supply of any commodity, in this case the attention span of any consumer of information, is limited and that market forces will efficiently allocate that scarce resource among the various interests competing for it.
Let’s apply Simon’s lesson to the selling environment. Your prospects and customers, by definition, are consumers of information. They seek information from various sources, such as the Internet, social media and salespeople, in order to make fully informed decisions about purchasing the right products and services for their needs.
Prospects Exchange Their Time For Value
However, as Dr. Simon pointed out, your prospects and customers have a limited supply of attention to share among the various information sources requesting a piece of it. At some point during their buying process, they have to make a conscious decision about how to allocate their limited attention bandwidth between all the demands for that attention (which includes talking to potential vendors, administrative tasks, management responsibilities, meetings of various kinds, making phone calls, returning emails, updating their Facebook status and texting with their spouse, kids and friends).
Therefore, your prospects and customers are forced to make trade-offs about how they are going to prioritize the allocation of their attention bandwidth. Those sellers that provide the greatest ROI to their prospects on the time invested in them will be given more time to sell to them. This means that salespeople that consistently maximize the value they deliver to their prospects and customers will have the inside track to the order.
In my first book, Zero-Time Selling, 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales, I show how your prospects calculate an economic return on the time they invest in you. I call this a Return on Time Invested (ROTI.) Every sales interaction you have with a prospect is judged on whether it delivers value or not. If you are careless in how you spend the precious minutes of attention the prospect has allocated to you, then they will make the perfectly rational decision to invest their time with another seller.
Sell with Maximum Impact
How can you effectively cut through the endless barrage of information confronting your prospects to grab their attention? The key is to Sell with Maximum Impact in the Least Time. Selling with Maximum Impact means to take the steps that enable you to quickly deliver the value your prospects need to make an informed purchase decision with the least investment of their attention (time).
Selling with Maximum Impact in the Least Time requires deliberate planning on the part of the salesperson. Every interaction with a prospect has to be planned to deliver the maximum value to them. Whether it is a phone call, email, text, video chat or sales call, planning for each prospect interaction has to answer the question: what value (value being defined as any information, data, questions, context or insights) does the prospect need from me today in order to move at least one step closer to making a decision?
Sell with Maximum Impact every time you interact with a prospect and you will be rewarded with all the time you need to make your case. If you can help your prospects to move through their buying process more quickly, then they will allocate more of their limited attention to you because you will have trained them to expect more value and a better return on their investment of time than your competitors.
Keep in mind that the ROTI is a two-way street. Maximize your prospects return on the time they invest with you and you will earn the maximum return, in the form of orders, on the time you invest in them.
Andy Paul is author of Amp Up Your Sales: Powerful Strategies That Move Customers To Make Fast, Favorable Decisions and Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales. A sought-after speaker and business coach, Andy conducts workshops, coaches and consults with CEOs and sales teams to teach them how to maximize the value and power of their selling to rapidly increase their sales.