Let's face facts. The focus of the average prospect is not on your marketing piece. It might be on their job, or their mortgage, or their spouse.
You will find them somewhat aware of what is going on around them, but they are not fully engaged. This does not make them the best prospects for your message, and it will be hard to establish an initial rapport.
The right words are needed to break through. Some basic database research should help you determine what has their focus. Once you know something about them, you have a good chance of getting their attention.
The more you understand how the mind works, the more success you will have. People do respond to praise and will naturally agree with your good judgment. Think about your conversation when you first meet someone. You cast about trying to find things you have in common. The more you share in common the more you like each other. The more agreements your prospect shares with you, the easier it is to get them to accept your point of view and the more they trust you.
For example, if you are selling an investment program you need to find points of agreement that your prospect can share. Something obvious is the desire for a better return. Any new suggestions should be a logical extension of that initial belief. If you do this carefully, you will keep them in a highly suggestive state.
Here, they aren't operating on logic but rather on a blend of fixed ideas, suggestions and past memories. Your job then is to bridge from their fixed ideas to the new ideas that you want them to accept. Start by agreeing with what they already believe and then suggest adding slight variations.
For instance, the prospect may already be sold on an investment plan. Your action is to let them know your plan is a logical extension of their current plan. Once you have their agreement, you can move on, always reinforcing the new idea with plenty of logic and proof.
Eventually this charmed state will be replaced with an awareness of what you are selling them, and what it will cost them. But by then, you will have sold an investment plan to a prospect that agrees with you and is convinced he or she has made the right decision.
Albert Saxon is president of Saxon Marketing, Springfield, MA.