The truth about what works
Sales communications coach & Managing Partner, Communications Edge Inc.
Trainer to brands like:
Instant results are possible
I'm not going to lie to you. Online guru charlatans promise instant results.
But the truth is results are, sometimes, nearly instant for some of our smartest students.
It IS possible to, in a few days, dramatically improve your ability to spark conversations with new customers ... from cold.
Or to re-start past discussions that have cooled off. Or re-start discussions with warm trade show leads.
We often provide tips in articles like this ... in ways readers apply. The results are nearly immediate.
Yes. There are cases where it takes time. A lot of time ... to find the right provocation technique. But then there are others like Jeremy Hall of SADA Systems.
"We're getting big meetings every week and my pipeline is stacked for the next two quarters. We're having good success by being different. We're intriguing them to learn more and getting them to ask us for more information without any aggressive tactics," says Jeremy.
What's making the difference?
I would say your advice of not asking for the meeting initially is getting us more opportunities.
Then there's Stephen Ashcroft of DPSA, a division of AECOM.
Jeff - just wanted to say *thanks*. I applied your ‘tell me if your giving up on pursue ...’. 3rd email to a gone dark client. It worked! Conversation now in play. Your insight is really good. Keep at it! Good vibes sent for your continued success. -- Steve
Then there's Julie Cohen, CEO of Work.Life.Leader in New York...
"Thanks, Jeff. Within a week of updating my communications technique, I got a positive reply from an unresponsive prospect that I’d given up on."
Is it like eating cake week-to-week? No. Sometimes, Julie becomes frustrated. What works one week... very well... doesn't the next. And the next. And the next!
But that's why our community is here for her. To guide, advise on technique and pivot (update) when necessary.
I recently had lunch with Javier Cazares of Softtek. He provoked response from a large, U.S. Retailer's CIO with a simple tactic: “There is an unusual but effective technique you may be overlooking.” (sound familiar?)
His target took the bait, replied asking "You're on: What's so unusual?"
But was it bait—or was it a challenge to ask Javier to prove his claim? (hint: it was the latter)
Here's what many sellers (who's messages are under-performing) often have in common:
- Their prior email/voicemail technique only needed small adjustments to produce significant gains in response.
- They are open to radically changing what to say and when they say it.
- They simply don't know what to do—to psychologically trigger response in buyers.
LinkedIn may be causing your failure
Asking to connect with a prospect is becoming less effective. Because it is a tactic used by low-skilled sales practitioners. Don't like the characterization I just made? :)
Are you reaching out to prospects by asking for a connection? Why? (seriously... stop and think about the question)
When I ask people the response is always the same: Why not? Or isn't asking to connect what I'm supposed to do?
No. It's what everyone does. Making it dangerously common. Blaze a new trail. One that works. Instead, use LinkedIn as a research tool—not a primary communications device.
Here's the skinny:
1. Everyone is using (and abusing) the "connect first" tactic
2. Most accepted connection requests are followed immediately by a terrible sales pitch
3. After a while your targets will (accordingly) accept fewer connection requests
4. Being connected on LinkedIn is not necessary (ever) to start a conversation
5. You see an accepted connection request as a positive indicator (when it is not)
Remember: You're a stranger. As sellers are rushing into LinkedIn social selling decision-makers are:
- Hiding decision-making authority on LinkedIn (because they're getting pounced on!)
- Accepting fewer (not more) connection requests
- Not accepting “just any” connection request
- Responding to problem-solvers not meeting-request spammers
Use all other options. The phone & voicemail. Standard email. Postal mail.
I know this sounds obvious. But are you limiting yourself? You want exceptional results but are your tactics exceptional?
Email is informal—or its deleted
Your subject line must be vague. Your message must be seen as less formal ... and must not take more than 10 seconds to read. Your tone is "quick-hit." You're in-and-out.
Or you're deleted.
Examine your email message's tone. Is it formal? This is likely sabotaging your effort. Even using salutations, lately, is creating less response for sellers.
Starting your message with, “Dear, Jeff” or even, “Hi, Jeff” (as compared to “Jeff...”) may be causing your message to look/feel like a mail-merged piece of spam.
In other words, people are (lately) tending to not write, “Dear” or “Hello” to each other in email messages. They tend to simply address with the first name.
Many of our students report better response rates by dropping the salutation. Like it or not it works!
Beyond the salutation, email and voicemail messages that work are short and take risks. They don't talk at all about you. Not one bit. It's all about the prospect.
Messages earning response are viewed on mobile devices by your targets. They're responded to as part of a continual routine.
Deletion. Cleaning-up the inbox.
So be sure to leave room for curiosity. It may feel unnatural at first, but less is more. Want to practice with Jed Fleming, myself and a small group of colleagues?
Don't forget this
Roughly 90% of sales prospecting email messages fail to exploit the #1 most powerful tactic there is: Proving you've done research on the prospect. Showing you've done homework on the prospect makes all the difference.
This is a huge opportunity ... to get better results lately.
Because when you demonstrate “I did my homework” your message isn't perceived (immediately) as spam.
From this point you can roll forward—avoiding other death traps. For example, talking about your clients, listing benefits, positioning yourself as a problem solver, hitting on pain-points... and asking for a meeting rather than a conversation.
Avoid looking like every other lazy sales slug—pushing non-researched messages asking customers to meet before they realize they need to.
Instead, get to work. Pulling, attracting clients to have conversation with you isn't easy. Pushing is. Your prospects see the difference in every message you send.
This is what I'm learning from my most creative, diligent students.
Challenge your buyer to invite you into a discussion. Good luck! Need help? I'm here for you. Actually, 9 others just like you are here for you too.
Once you know, you know
When I coach people it's always exciting. But it's most productive when eyes open widely... and heads nod furiously up-and-down. Many of us simply don't know a better way to be starting conversations. Why?
Nobody ever explained a few effective options.
Once you know, you know.
It seems obvious. Many of our best students report feeling confident, invigorated, liberated. Because they always felt “what I have been doing is wrong-wrong-wrong. And now I have sensible options.”
Better ways to provoke response, spark curiosity and start conversations.
Maybe you're crafting cold sales email subject lines and messages... or have in past. Where did you learn how to write in a provocative way? You probably tried figuring it out on your own. Or your marketing team may have provided words. You cut-and-paste them into email messages and send to prospects.
But success with cold prospecting depends on a number of factors. The primary being communications technique. This, and a few others, will drive your near-term success at starting new conversations.
Come and join a small group of us—as we perfect our individual techniques.
With your success in mind,
Sales communications coach & Managing Partner
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