How Important is the KLT Factor in Selling?
(FYI: The formatting on this post is broken, it’s some type of WordPress error. My apologies).
Used car salesmen — ya gotta love em’!
OK, you don’t.
But you do have to admire them from a marketing standpoint.
Why is that? Because they completely trample one of modern marketing’s sacred cows — the know, like, trust factor (i.e., KLT factor).
They seem to run on nothing more than bluster, moxie, and nerve but… somehow still make a living.
How do they do it? And what can you learn from them?
Before we get to that, let’s talk a little about the KLT factor. Is it really necessary for selling?
KLT factor of nil
The thinking behind KLT is this: customers are more likely to buy from those they know, like, and trust. The higher your KLT factor, the more sales you close.
It’s not a new concept, but the word itself is. The KLT factor is central to content marketing, which is yet another new term for an old concept.
As we’ve already said, car salesmen blow the KLT theory to smithereens. How? They fail at two of its three components. While everybody knows them, nobody likes them. And trust? Ha! Car salesmen sit at the bottom of the trust barrel among professionals in the United States.
Despite all that, they’re doing just fine. Consider:
- Car salesmen earn more than the average private sector employee
- Car salesmen turn over less than the average private sector employee
So what gives?
We’ll cover that in a minute. But its related to…
Desperation trumps the KLT factor
He’s right of course. A starving crowd is best.
But it’s not an obvious conclusion, as his students proved.
Here’s my take. Food is a primal need. So is shelter… clothing… and maybe love too.
Almost nothing else is… except a car!
Which is why no matter how odious you think the fast-talking guy down at the auto mart is, you might still buy from him.
Road sign for starving people
Take for example this sign posted high above one of Seattle’s main commercial strips:
Now the obvious reaction, from anyone passing by, NOT starving for a car?
“Really? No problem — even if my credit score is 300?”
“Really? No problem — even if I don’t have a job?”
“Really? No problem — even if I’m in debt and own NOTHING that can be used for collaterol?”
“How dumb do they think people are?”
But the sign’s copy is not a question of smarts. It’s a question of desire.
“How bad do you want it?”
The sign was made for the person with a Doorbuster, Black Friday-sized urge for a car…
No matter how much it costs!
It goes without saying that anyone with no credit has a BIG problem. They’ll pay for the privilege of owning a car… in blood.
In fact, a few months into their payment schedule, they’ll curse the day they signed the paperwork!
But in the moment, they want what they want.
There’s no shortage of people willing to suspend all disbelief to get a car.
Used car salesmen know this and they speak accordingly.
Cultivating a starving crowd
Halbert’s burger example is helpful for its simplicity. In a real-life sales situation, though, it breaks down for two reasons:
1. Starving people don’t travel in packs, looking for food.
2. Most products and services are luxuries, not essentials.
Taking those realities into account, here’s what you can do to work around them.
1. Find the starving crowd — the easiest way to sell a product or service is to put yourself smack in the middle of people who are already buying. You cannot create desire for a product, no matter how good your sales copy. You can only channel existing desire.
Think Google adwords or the food court in the mall. If there really is a starving crowd, someone is probably serving them already. If no one else is, it could mean the starving crowd doesn’t exist.
- Targeting a niche audience
- Adding value
- Testing price points
- Inserting personality into marketing copy
For an added dose of persuasion, use the KLT factor on a starving crowd.
KLT factor full circle
- the smell of the burgers cooking (mmm!)
- the sight of the burgers cooking (drool!)
- the sound of the burgers cooking (pop, crackle!)
Ranking know, like, and trust
Content marketing, especially the KLT factor, has been badly misunderstood. In the minds of some, it means no selling — ever. Or, put another way, free content all day if and until the customer buys.
That’s nonsense. Marketing and selling go together like chocolate and peanut butter. So, to clear up any misunderstandings about the role of KLT, I define them as they relate to selling.
Know is the least important component of sales persuasion. At minimum, customers need only to know where you can be found online and off. It’s good if they know what you sell.
Traditional advertising with its emphasis on “awareness” often bungles this. Customers may recognize a brand name but not know what they do… at all. For example, how many people know that Texas Instruments is a chip manufacturer — a semiconductor company? I didn’t. I thought they made calculators! Big distinction.
Like is often misunderstood in the sales process. It’s not so much warm feelings or a preference for a product. It’s more like being in agreement. That is, we “like”a company or product when it solves a problem we have.