Failing to convert? Are you speaking to your prospects in Klingon? Part 1 of 3

Failing to convert? Are you speaking to your prospects in Klingon? Part 1 of 3
Part 1 of 3

Problem: There’s plenty of interest in your services and consequently you’re getting lots of opportunities to present your offering. But you’re consistently failing to convert the majority of prospects into buyers.


Have you considered that you’re speaking to them in @#$% Klingon! 

You don’t know why they don’t buy – they’re coming to you via referral, website, outbound marketing and networking – it doesn’t take much to get interest. The offer is right; the pricing is right; the solution fits the expressed need; your message is uniform and consistent – it just seems that as soon as you start the sales pitch, the shutters come down and their interest turns off. They look at you as if you’re talking gobbledy-gook. Every so often, someone does buy, which keeps you plugging away, but you feel there’s something missing from your approach.

Why don't they buy?

One common reason people don’t buy is that salespeople often get locked into a default pitch which only reflects the language they themselves use. Perhaps you’re speaking in a language your prospects don’t understand. And that goes for all your communication – website content, sales pitch, face-to-face networking, what you say, how you say it – everything.

There are two important things to know about all forms of sales communication. The first thing to understand is, people buy in different ways. These differences are totally dependent on personality and unless you’re on the same wavelength as your prospect, you might as well be speaking Klingon.

The second thing is, unless you can recognise the language your prospect speaks – the wavelength they’re on – you can’t hope to sell them anything. Wrong style means miscommunication, which is why you’re getting those blank stares. You’re saying one thing, but your prospect is hearing something completely different.

The mistake we often make is to assume our target audience thinks or feels the same way we do. Prospects and customers are different from you and different from each other. And they are always seeking people like themselves. You will succeed in communicating once you recognise the differences and realise that you must approach them the way they want to be approached, not necessarily the way you would want to be approached.

So, how do you recognise these differences? Well, let’s take a look at how we buy.

The different ways we buy 

Buyers of business services are generally not casual shoppers. It’s very difficult to “sell” someone a service they’re not in the market for. Realistically, most prospects are “buyers,” going in search of professional services only when they need it or expect to need it in the near future. Ask yourself, when was the last time you had a tooth pulled just because you happened to be driving past a dentist?

The ways in which we buy can be divided into four groups. And these groups are governed by personality.

Despite the fact there are over 7 billion people in the world, each of us is one of just four fundamental personality “types,” or profiles. (For more about personality profiles, attend one of Gavan Podbury’s entertaining and informative seminars, or visit Disclosure: Gavan is a client of mine). Each of these four personality types corresponds to one of four kinds of buyer personality. Each of us buys in one of these four ways. And each type is very different from the others.

Each personality type thinks, feels and sees the world differently. Each views their wants and needs, likes and dislikes, distractions and objectives differently. And when making a buying decision, each type processes information differently. Because the types buy in such different ways, you must use a different communication style for each.

For example, one type wants a simple summary, other types want lots of detail. One type puts great store in what others think, but others keep their own counsel. One type in particular is only interested in your service because it’s bright, shiny and new.

Trying to cover all those bases with a single sales pitch is very difficult. If you’re trying to fit everything into a uniform and consistent message, perhaps that’s where the problem lies. Your approach to communication isn’t connecting. It’s miscommunication. Sending the same sales message to everyone and expecting them all to be persuaded to buy your service doesn’t work.

Developing a communication approach that recognises each of the four buyer groups is the key to successful sales conversations. This applies whether you’re speaking to a single person, to a group, in writing or through your website. Because you’re speaking to prospects in their own language, you can tailor your communications. If prospects hear, read, feel or see you’re on the right wavelength, you’re more likely to break down the resistance to buy. Prospects will buy from those they like and trust, but they don’t like being sold to. 


Go to Part 2 

Steve Osborne

director at

Marketing, advertising and design consultant with many years experience in small business marketing strategy; brand advertising; packaging and identity design. Expert in developing creative campaigns to attract new prospects for professional and service-based businesses. Deep and broad experience with digital and traditional media channels; sales and general business acumen