Why The Attention Barrier Is Killing Your Sales – And How To Fix It

Are your sales where you want them to be?sales barriers

Are they slow…or even non-existent?

Deep down you know that you have a quality offer that your prospects would jump all over if they just gave it a good look.

But for whatever reason you can’t seem to get them to slow down long enough to seriously consider it.


The Attention Barrier

I call this phenomenon the Attention Barrier – and it can wreak havoc on your confidence in your offering.

If you’re experiencing this issue, chin up. You’re not alone. It’s one of the most common sales barriers regardless of if you sell face to face, over the phone, online, or in print.

The reason you’re not grabbing the attention of your prospects probably isn’t that your offering stinks. It’s also not necessarily a commentary on your selling skills.

It’s much simpler than that. Let’s take a look at why we fail to clear the Attention Barrier.


We Live In A Noisy World

We live in an era in which information is much more plentiful and easily available than at any time in human history.

Access to more and better information opens up new opportunities to us, so we try to accomplish more with our new-found knowledge. The world is a busy place full of busy people. We work faster and we think faster. As a result, we make decisions and judgments faster.

What does that have to do with your prospects? Plenty!

Your prospects have more noise going on in their heads now than ever before. That means they will make the decision to either give you the time of day or blow you off faster than ever before, too.

Everyone wants everyone else’s attention. We are all bombarded by offers from every direction every day.

Think about when you’re the one being sold to. Between in-person salespeople, phone calls, emails, and print ads – how do you determine which of those hundreds of offers you will bother to learn more about?


The Four Unasked Questions

You probably never consciously thought about it before, but when we are approached with a new offer, we all run through four simple evaluation questions:

1: Who is this person and what do they want from me?
2: If I do pay attention, what’s going to happen?
3: What’s in it for me if I pay attention?
4: How long is this going to take?

These are the four questions that your prospect will probably never ask you out loud – but if left unanswered, you’ll never get enough of their time to make the sale.

Before you have the opportunity to establish trust with a prospect – and before you have any hope at all of establishing credibility, you had better answer these four questions. Succeed in answering them, and you knock down the Attention Barrier. Fail and you’re finished before you start.

Good news: I have a simple but effective method of answering those four questions and moving the sales process forward.


The MATT Statement

It’s actually pretty easy. You answer all four of those questions in the very beginning of your interaction using a very simple device called the MATT Statement.

To understand the MATT Statement, let’s look at those four questions again and dissect what they’re really about.

1: Who is this person and what do they want from me?
This is a trust and credibility question. “I don’t know you – what are you up to?” The main concern of this question is Motive.

2: If I do pay attention, what’s going to happen?
This is question about fear, time, and convenience. “If I do listen, do I have to go through a big hassle to complete the transaction? Are you going to bully me into buying? Do I have to provide personal information?” This is primarily a question regarding Agenda.

3: What’s in it for me if I pay attention?
Pretty simple one here. This question is about basic human nature. “What is the benefit to me?” is the main thought behind this question. In other words : Takeaway.

4: How long is this going to take?
In this crazy-busy, hectic world we all hate to give up our precious time unless we can see value in giving it up. Most of us are willing to give someone 5 or 10 minutes. But 30 or 45 minutes? Yeah, probably not. We want to know on the front end of an interaction what the Timeline will be.


MATT Statement.


Formulating Your MATT Statement

At the very beginning of your interaction with a new prospect, you are going to craft a MATT Statement to answer all four of those unasked questions and destroy the Attention Barrier.

I’ve spent a couple decades in outside business to business sales, so I’m going to use a business to business example.

Let’s say I’m calling on a brand new prospect and I’m selling a sales management program. My MATT Statement might be…

“Hi Jim, I’m Gary Korisko with XYZ Sales Management. We’ve been in business for 30 years, but are new to the area – so I’m out introducing myself to all the (whatever) firms in town. I’d like to ask you a few questions about your program and share some information about XYZ with you. Then, if we find that we can help you improve your sales program at no cost to you, we can schedule another time to explore it further. If not, that’s fine too. The questions take anywhere between 5 or 10 minutes. Do you have just a few minutes to talk?”

Pretty simple, no?

Checking Our Work
Was there an answer to the Motive question, “Who is this person and what do they want from me?
Yes. It’s Gary my new XYZ rep and he’s here to introduce himself.

Was there an answer to the Agenda question, “If I do pay attention, what’s going to happen?” There was. If I pay attention, he’s going to ask me a few questions and tell me a little about his company.

Was there an answer to the Takeaway question, “What’s in it for me if I pay attention?” Yes. The sales guy said something about improving my sales program at no cost to me. That sounds pretty interesting!

Was there an answer to the Timeline question, “How long is this going to take?” There sure was. It’s going to take 5 or 10 minutes. That’s not long. I could give him 5 to 10 minutes, right?

That statement only takes about 25 seconds to speak at a natural pace and it answers all four questions.

The MATT statement works equally well in person or over the phone. Could you pull off a similar statement in an email or on a web page? Absolutely.

By using the MATT Statement you have effectively taken much of the prospect’s perceived risk out of giving your offering a serious look.

Once you’ve achieved that, you have quieted the noise in their head and grabbed a little more of their attention. And when you have their attention, they can more clearly see how your offer can make their life better.

Give it a try. Use a MATT Statement to answer the four unanswered questions in the first minute of contact with a new prospect.

What about you?
Have you experienced the Attention Barrier?
How do you get a prospect to pay attention to your offer?


About Gary Korisko

Gary is a battle-tested sales and marketing pro, copywriter, coach, and business strategist who teaches how to create worthwhile work on Reboot Authentic. Connect with Gary on Google+ and Twitter.

10 Replies

  1. Gary, this looks like a useful approach outside of the sales arena as well!

  2. Gary_RA

    Exactly. We’re all in sales, Bobbi!

    We all sell something: Products, services, ideas, or ourselves. It’s a communication technique as much as it is a sales technique. Good call 🙂

  3. Thanks for this, Gary,
    It’s very helpful. I’m a sucker for memory-assists like this. Unfortunately, in my flu-addled state I cannot recall how to spell _________-device. (go figure). But I can remember MATT quite easily.
    To a certain extent, what you describe is only “good, common sense” for anyone trying to sell anything. We all know, however, how precious the resource ‘common sense’ is in everyday life.
    I can see exactly how important this approach is for making email outreaches, and will work hard to make good use of it in the future.
    Hope you are well and enjoying the New Year. Great to see something new from you.

    1. Gary_RA

      I can tell you it does translate well to email and even web page based selling with just a little perspective shift. Instead of thinking about how long it takes to deliver the MATT Statement (time) – think how many lines and how much space. (above the fold)

      Give it a shot.

      Sorry to hear you’re down with the flu, Jim. Hope you bounce back soon!

  4. Priska

    Thanks Gary,
    It sounds like a good communication technique to me which could be applied in many areas.

  5. Balls of steel. I spent a summer in sales and that was all I could handle. Decades in outside sales? No way…

    You’re describing almost idea for idea the advice copywriters give for writing introductions. It must be true then 😉

    I try, as much as possible, to start sales with those ideas in mind. Always works better than starting without them.

    1. Thanks, Amit – but sales isn’t necessarily as rough as it might sound 🙂

      Good point about copywriting, too. I’ve read very little about copywriting technique, but it makes sense since copywriting is just selling through the written word. Good addition to the conversation, Amit.

  6. If anyone selling something says that they haven’t experienced the attention barrier, they probably need their head checked. I’m curious though Gary. Would the MATT approach work when you’re selling free? For example, getting someone on to your email list, asking them to read the definitive free resource on topic XYZ, etc.?

    By the way, the focus of your articles since the rebrand and relaunch have been . I’m really digging them!

    I’d love to see your take about another four letter acronym in selling: SPIN Selling, Neil Rackman style. It’s the only book specifically about sales that I’ve read and it seems like required reading (from a novice perspective) for people who want to wrap their head around concepts like the attention barrier.

    1. Thanks, Joel. Comments that make a great point AND make me laugh out loud are my favorites.

      As to your question of what if the thing you’re selling is free – I’d ask another question: Just because there is no money involved, is it free? Or are we still asking someone to invest time, effort, and energy to do whatever it is we’re asking of them?

      Free is different…but the same. We have to very quickly answer those four questions to have even a shot at our prospects/readers attention. (Great question)

      SPIN selling is a great book (I own it) and a valid method. I always thought it was an unfortunate acronym, though. I only say that because there’s a perception with most people that if you “spin” something you’re not being entirely truthful…which is in no way what the book or method is about.

      That being said, I’d agree. The field guide is a simple, light read that would be excellent for new (and even more experienced) salespeople. My copy is well worn and all the exercises are filled out.

      High five for a great comment, Mr. Z!

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