Traits of Top Salespeople

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Month: March 2023

You Need Timed Repetition to Influence Your Prospects

You Need Timed Repetition to Influence Your Prospects

In the world of sales and marketing, there is a principle known as the “Rule of 7.” The Rule of 7 is a principle that states that a prospect needs to see or hear a message at least seven times before they take action.

The idea behind the Rule of 7 is that a prospect must be exposed to a message multiple times before being motivated to take action. This principle was first introduced in the 1930s and has been used in the sales and marketing industry ever since. However, exposure alone is not enough. The timing of these exposures is just as important as the frequency.

The science of memory

For the sales message to be effective, it must be remembered between occurrences. This implies that salespeople should have a basic understanding of how memory works so that a great salesperson can purposefully create messages that have the desired effect.

Memory experiments provide empirical evidence for the effectiveness of the Rule of 7 in sales. According to short-term memory capacity, most adults can store between 5 and 9 items. Miller’s (1956) theory of the “Magic number 7” suggests that short-term memory can hold 7 (plus or minus two items) because it only has a certain number of “slots” in which items can be stored. If we want our marketing messages to be remembered, we must ensure they are repeated at suitable intervals.

There are two ways in which capacity is tested in memory experiments. One is span, which refers to the number of items that can be held in memory simultaneously. The other is the recency effect, which relates to things presented at the end of a list as more likely to be remembered than those shown in the middle.

Items can be kept in short-term memory by repeating them verbally (acoustic encoding), a process known as Rehearsal. Suppose we want memorable sales messages. In that case, we need to repeat them at the proper intervals so they can be rehearsed and encoded into long-term memory. For example, a study by Atkinson and Shiffrin (1971) found that the duration of short-term memory is between 15 and 30 seconds.

Another study by Jacobs (1887) used the digit span test to test short-term memory capacity. He found that people find it easier to recall numbers rather than letters. The average span for letters was 7.3, and for numbers, it was 9.3. To make our sales messages memorable, we need to use simple and unique phrases that can be easily recalled. We should also use numbers in our sales messages whenever practical.

A study by Cowan (2001) found that working memory capacity is limited to four items rather than the seven items suggested by Miller. This means we need to be even more strategic in using the Rule of 7 and ensure that each repetition provides valuable information that can be easily encoded into long-term memory.

Memory experiments provide evidence for the effectiveness of the Rule of 7 in sales. However, we also need to be strategic in using the Rule of 7 and ensure that each repetition provides valuable information that can be easily encoded into long-term memory. Doing so increases the chances of our prospects remembering our message and taking action. By understanding the capacity of short-term memory and the importance of repetition at the proper intervals, we can create marketing campaigns that are effective and influential.

The Forgetting Curve

To understand the importance of timing in marketing, we must first understand the concept of the forgetting curve. The forgetting curve is a psychological phenomenon first discovered by Hermann Ebbinghaus in 1885. The forgetting curve shows that we forget information at an exponential rate. In other words, we forget most of what we learn within a brief period.

According to the forgetting curve, we forget up to 90% of what we have learned within the first week if we don’t reinforce that knowledge. This curve means that if we want to remember something, we must revisit that information multiple times and at the proper intervals, to avoid forgetting it. The same principle applies to marketing messages. Suppose we want our prospects to remember our message and take action. In that case, we must reinforce that message multiple times at suitable intervals.

So, how often do we need to expose our message to our prospects, and at what intervals? The answer to this question varies depending on the source. Still, the consensus is that it takes between 5 and 12 exposures to get a prospect to take action. However, it’s about more than just the number of exposures but also the timing of those exposures.

In a study conducted by the Association for Psychological Science, researchers found that the timing of repetition plays a crucial role in memory retention. The study showed that participants exposed to information at spaced intervals were better able to recall that information than those who were exposed to that information at massed intervals. In other words, it’s better to space out your marketing messages than to bombard your prospects with them all at once.

Spacing out our messages allows our prospects’ brains to rest and process the information. This gives their brains time to encode the information into long-term memory, making it easier to recall later. On the other hand, if we bombard our prospects with messages all at once, we overload their brains, making it difficult for them to process and retain the information.

Message content

In addition to spacing out our messages, it’s also essential to consider the context of those messages. For example, if we are trying to sell a product or service, we must consider the prospect’s buying and seller’s selling cycles.

During the seller’s Discovery and Scoping stages, the prospect must be made aware of their need for our product or service. Our sales messages during this stage should focus on understanding the prospect’s goals and how our product or service can help them achieve them.

During the Scoping stage, the prospect tries to understand how to achieve their company goals and initiatives. Our sales messages should focus on our product or service’s unique benefits and features during this stage.

Finally, during the Validation stage, the prospect is ready to purchase. Our sales messages during this stage should focus on closing the deal and providing social proof.

To effectively influence our prospects, we must tailor our sales messages and space out those messages at the proper intervals. For example, during Discovery, we might send an initial email introducing our brand and providing valuable information about the prospect’s goals. Then, we might follow up a week later with another email or blog post that dives deeper into the benefits of our product or service. Another week later, we might send a case study or customer testimonial demonstrating our solution’s effectiveness. By spacing out our messages and providing valuable information at each buying cycle stage, we are more likely to influence our prospects and turn them into customers.

It’s also important to consider the medium through which we send our sales messages. Different mediums have different levels of effectiveness depending on the context of the message and the target audience. For example, email marketing is a highly effective medium for B2B marketing, as it allows us to personalize our messages and reach decision-makers directly. Social media marketing and outreach might help to “surround” the prospect, allow for a more extensive reach, and provide for 3rd party validation of the message. General social media posts will enable us to get a larger audience and build brand awareness.

However, regardless of the medium, the key is to space out our messages at the correct intervals and provide valuable information at each stage of the sales cycle. Doing so increases the chances of our prospects remembering our message and taking action.

The biggest challenge of using the Rule of 7 in sales is that it is a lot of work and can be haphazard. Effective planning needs to occur, and a system is required to use the knowledge of how the mind works. In my book Eliminate Your Competition, I explain the 6-3-1 program, which touches the prospect 13 times with four communication channels. It systematizes the Rule of 7 in a straightforward process every salesperson can use to engage with new prospects.

You may purchase my book Eliminate Your Competition from your favorite book retailer. The ebook version is available at the most popular retailers, such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is also widely available at retailers like AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Books A Million.

The Rule of 7 is a marketing principle that has stood the test of time. However, it’s about more than exposing our prospects to our message seven times. The timing of those exposures is just as important as the frequency. By spacing out our messages and tailoring them to each stage of the buying cycle, we increase the chances of our prospects remembering our message and taking action. Marketing is a process requiring patience, persistence, and strategic thinking. By understanding the importance of timed repetition, we can create marketing campaigns that are effective and influential.

Header photo by Vlada Karpovich