Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Alexander Technique Principles in Selling: 3. Use Affects Functioning

Don Burton, a wonderful English Alexander Technique teacher who passed away many years ago in mysterious circumstances, built on Alexander’s principle of Use affects Function – he added the concept of structure.

Originally a physiotherapist by profession, Don pointed out that even standing on a leg for a few seconds triggers structural changes in the way osteoblasts are layering bone cells. Or a drunk can’t walk straight because alcohol alters the membrane structure of nerve fibres, resulting in dysfunctional nerve propagation – your message doesn’t quite produce what you originally intended; so you get up with the “drunken” walk.

Of course the drunken walk originated with your decision to drink alcohol – which is “use” or “choice” if you prefer. How a person chooses to take your sessions or not, depends on the structure of your offer! You create a detailed offer structure long before the actual selling takes place. Are you doing this now?

Here’s a basic primer to get you going – I will flesh this out in future posts:

WHO (you offer to)
In sales it’s called demographics and psychographics: the profile of your imagined students. Do you have a clear conceptual portrait of your ideal student(s)? Do this exercise: make a list of all your past and current students, then have fun putting them into different lists: male, female, living close, living far away, young, middle aged, old, working, unemployed, retired, married, single, with/without kids, rich, poor etc. Also consider them psychologically: bossy, easygoing, perfectionist, caring, proud, rebellious, thoughtful, loyal, fun-loving etc. As you do this, patterns may emerge. Note them and ask your Self: why/how do I attract these people?

WHAT (you offer them)
My sister (I have four) once decided to take a leaf out of Alexander’s sales strategy. She told all her trial lesson students: I will not accept you unless you come every day for two weeks. Other teachers in SATA of Sydney at the time (it was 1987) thought she was crazy: “No-one’s going to that! They can come to me whenever they like…” But guess what? She converted most of her people into this deal, and her practise flourished as a result. At BodyChance I drive my staff crazy because I am always re-inventing offers: experimenting with different structures to see how that affects sales. Do this exercise: create a totally new lesson offer, and trial it with a both new & current students. This is one way that Alexander’s principle functions in sales.

WHEN (you offer it)
Traditional wisdom in today’s era of social media dictates that you build a relationship before you try to sell anything. People first need to know you, like you and trust you. Then they will be ready to buy from you. Trying to sell AT lessons directly from your website, for example, is a bit silly. It works, but not at the level of career success. Only at the level of sustainability. Websites for AT teachers need to be about relationship building, which I covered in a previous blog.

WHY (you offer it)
Many Alexander Technique teachers assume that new people want to know about the Alexander Technique. They don’t. They don’t care about Alexander Technique – they care about their problems. They come to you not to find out what you are doing, but to find out if you can help them with their problem. If your offer reflects this understanding, you increase the likelihood of a sale.

WHERE (do you offer it)
People have buying habits. Once most people would never buy online, now it is common place. Some people buy clothes online, other people would not dream of it. How does your ideal student like to buy? This is critical to understand – if you ask them to buy in a way that is non-habitual for them, you have unnecessarily created a structural obstacle to your sale. Do this exercise: list down all the different ways that people could pay for your lessons. Then ask if your way is the one that “feels easy” to the majority of your students?

HOW (you make your offer)
Have you heard of a “sales funnel”? It’s a common concept in sales today and the name explains it aptly: you have a wider open funnel that channels people down to a narrow opening = a new lesson booking. Do this exercise: list down all the steps that a person fulfilled to end up in your teaching room. That is your sales funnel. How many steps did they go through with you directly? Over what period of time (see WHEN above)? At BodyChance our sales funnel functions over many years, and involves an extraordinary number of different steps.

That’s all for today! 

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