If you’ve never been to Hershey Park, there’s a ride there called the Great American Chocolate Tour. On this tour, colorful coaster cars wind you through a recreated Hershey factor as you’re educated on the art of chocolate making.
You watch as the cacao beans are blended, pressed and refined. You see creamy milk chocolate turn in stainless steel vats, watch it drip into hardening molds or mix with nuts and caramel, and later see it whisked along conveyor belts to be wrapped in shiny packages.
Hershey’s pumps chocolate aroma into the air and, at the end, you’re given a Hershey’s kiss before being ushered into the Hershey’s gift shop.
After about 9 minutes of seeing, smelling and even tasting Hershey’s’ rich, silky chocolate, how many people do you think walk out of the gift shop without buying at least one item?
Why am I telling you this?
Because today I want to talk about why educating your prospects (in a very specific way) is the most powerful way to turn them into paying customers and clients. (Don’t worry, I’ll tell you what it has to do with the Hershey’s tour in a minute.)
The first step is to understand that your prospects go through several distinct phases on their path to becoming your repeat customers.
They typically don’t wake up one day needing what you sell and waltz into your store. Which is why you have to grab their attention at all times, not just when they’re standing in front of you.
So among the phases they go through is the realization they have a challenge/goal they want to overcome/achieve.
To help make this as clear as possible, let’s pretend you own a local wine and cheese shop, and your prospect is a local community member who’s throwing a dinner party.
The problem she becomes aware of is that she needs to choose enough of the right variety of wine to satisfy a large group of people with different likes and dislike.
Only, she doesn’t know a thing about wine.
So she knows she has a problem, now how is she going to solve it?
Most of your prospects in this phase start to research. And catching them now is critical.
Assuming this is common problem for many of your prospects, let’s say you put together a short report on the subject.
In the report you talk a little about the differences between sweet and dry wines, red and white wines; you talk about tannins and residual sugars. You give your prospect enough information about wine in general without naming any specifics, and then invite them into your store where you promise to help them pick the perfect varieties that will make their party a smash hit.
Now, think about how powerful this is. When you educate your prospect as they’re researching their problem, you do three things.
- Establish credibility and trust by proving your expertise and demonstrating you’re a leading in your field.
- Differentiate yourself from your competition. Prospects in this phase tend to be wary and assume everyone’s just “out for the sale.” When you educate them, you stand out by showing you understand them and what they’re going through, and that, unlike your competitor, you care enough to help them whether they buy from you or not.
- Offer a non-intimidating way to initiate a relationship. It’s much less intimidating to request information than to walk into your business. And it gives you the “upper hand” because now your prospects are coming after you instead of you always going after them.
So educating your prospects is key, but you have to do it is a specific way … you also have to sell them on doing business with you.
Think about the Hershey’s tour again. If all they did was tell you how chocolate is made, you wouldn’t be as tempted to buy their products at the end.
Instead, Hershey’s intentionally makes your mouth water, and then dumps you into their store to satisfy your craving. So in reality, their “educational tour” is just a calculated ploy to turn you into a buyer.
And it works.
To summarize, you need to both educate your prospects AND sell them on your service.
Give them just enough so they feel like they understand enough to not be “taken,” and then get them in your store to help them with the rest.