Access to decision makers is tough. An IDC study reported that inundated with data and sales pitches, it’s not surprising that buyers return only 10.5% of phone calls and 9% of emails from new vendors. Yet, day in and day out, salespeople use the same tactics – cold calls and cold emails – in an effort to convince a prospective customer to agree to a sales meeting.
Activity is not the same as effectiveness.
The ability to use technology to cast a wider net has given rise to the delusion that if you just broadcast your message to more people you are bound to land more meetings. If sales people expect to make quota, they need to remember that it’s all a numbers game, right? Wrong. The theory that simply increasing the number of “people” you contact means you’ll get more business is outdated. Times have changed.
Buyers are extremely busy. In IDC’s Social Buying Meets Social Selling whitepaper they concluded that “While time is scarce, trust and confidence can be even rarer. Buyers making high-impact decisions will gravitate toward methods that make confidence building easier.” Spray and spray selling isn’t going to instill confidence in a buyer any time soon.
Create a winning sales experience.
Spamcasting the same email message to 100, 500 or 1,000 people is not an effective prospecting strategy. Moreover, you put yourself at serious risk of creating a very negative impression in the mind of your potential customer. Competition is stiff and buyers have choices. Your mission is to create WOW experiences throughout every touch point and interaction in the sales process. And that absolutely begins with the first phone call you make or email that you send. If your goal is to fill the pipeline with qualified leads and secure sales meetings, you need a different strategy.
Two things need to change:
- Sales approach
Chasing down anyone with a pulse is a costly waste of time and energy. Though it may seem counterintuitive, you actually have a higher likelihood of securing meetings and closing deals more quickly when you focus your attention on a targeted list of decision makers to pursue.
Now that you’ve narrowed your focus, it is time to personalize your message. The Internet and social media in particular, is full of insights that can help you craft a message that is relevant to the buyer you’ve targeted. That means you need to do some homework prior to crafting your message, and yes, it does take more time and aren’t positive results worth the effort?
If you don’t want to fall into the 90% of communications that are deleted without a second thought, follow these tips:
- It is not about you. Prospects don’t care about your company history, the latest infusion of VC cash or the fact that you won an industry award. Tell them what is in it for them!
- Create a compelling subject line that captures interest.
- Keep the message brief and to the point.
- Check your facts. If you sell services to staffing agencies then be sure you are emailing staffing companies. One company was pitching me on their hydraulics report, which made me wonder why because that doesn’t come close to the business that I’m in. If you are buying lists, scrub the data.
- Check the grammar and spelling.
- Don’t use jargon and buzz words that only people in your company understand.
- Get the person’s name right.
- Stop asking people to visit your website to learn more. Lazy and presumes your buyer has the time to do your sales job.
- Make sure the customer examples you use are relevant. Don’t tout examples of enterprise organizations if you are emailing a small business. Make sure those examples include specific metrics that clearly show how results were achieved by the companies you are referencing.
- Don’t try to be a comedian. One email I received said that perhaps one of the reasons I didn’t get back to him is because a file cabinet fell on me and I couldn’t reach the keyboard to let him know I was interested. Delete.
Buyers expect more.
They want to work with people who can help them solve their business challenges. Order takers aren’t needed.
When you earn the right to a 30-minute meeting, use your time wisely. Don’t take the buyer back to the beginning and run them through your dog and pony show. Instead, focus on bringing insights to the meeting that will benefit them in some way. It could be information on the latest industry trends, data related to their competitors or a new business process that might benefit them.
Use these questions as a guide for preparing yourself for the sales meeting:
- Why should my target buyer care about what I offer?
- What happens to their business if they do nothing?
- Why should they trust me versus my competitors?
- How are their peers solving the same challenges they face now?
- What expertise will I need to move this ahead to a successful win?
- What do I need to know about current business initiatives, their competition or their industry?
- How do I gain their commitment? What’s really important to them?
The sellers who succeed are those that swim in the blue ocean. Let your competitors continue to do what they’ve always done. Let them pitch features. Let them fight it out on price. CEI discovered when they surveyed executive decision makers that 86% said that they would pay more for a great customer experience but felt that only 1% of vendors actually delivered. Creating a sales experience that sets you apart from everyone else is your competitive advantage. Go make it happen!
Data Source in images: Harvard Business Review – Winning at Sales in a Buyer Empowered World 2014