Do you get cold calls, e-mails, tweets, and LinkedIn messages from people trying to sell you things? If you are an inside sales person, it is important to put yourself in the receiver's shoes - the person who you are trying to connect to.
I get a lot of these calls and messages from eager sales reps every week, and I can tell you that there is one thing overall that shuts a conversation down quicker than anything else for me. It is in feeling like I'm a number. I'm the 50th dial so far today. I am receiving your "pitch" - you know, that thing you say to anyone and everyone who will listen. You don't change it up, or if you do, you don't do it very well.
Some of the people who contact me do their homework. That can cause a good conversation to happen, if it seems that what they do ties in with what we do in some manner. Others do no homework and call on me as if I was an enterprise organization. You know the type of call:
"Hello, Lori, I was looking for the person who makes decisions on annual sales off-sites and other company-wide meetings"
True call. Uh, I have a sales team of 2, ok? We are pretty flexible with where we meet annually, monthly, and weekly.
I can be harsh about it, but it is for your sales survival. Listen closely:
You must personalize your messaging for any hope of success in growing actions that lead to sales.
(say that 3 times).
There are a few quick tips that can help you:
1. Use the person's name in your messaging - and make sure you spell their name correctly if an e-mail and pronounced correctly if calling. That's the first kiss of death - instead of it saying, "Hi, Lori" in the e-mail, it says, "Hi, Bob". Delete.
2. Find 3 things out about the person or their company you are calling before picking up the phone. You can do this with a very quick web search - at least to their website. Look under the "news" or "media" section for their latest press releases and news that others are saying about the company. You will at least, very quickly know if business is growing or not, and what the big topic is at their company.
3. If you really do not have time to do this (and I think that is a leadership mistake, if so) - then at least understand 3 things about the industry you are calling into. If you call into hospitals / medical - you know a bit about the health care insurance changes and how this not only impacts all the decisions being made in the medical field now, but has added some anxiety and caution to decision-making. Tie that into your conversation.
4. Assuming you call into many markets, you then have to make sure you have a foundation and understanding of business fundamentals - how business is done and why a busy company would stop to hear about your product or service, then how a decision would go through the organization. Learn how your client companies do business - because ultimately that is how you will learn to manage a potential deal.
The fact is that once the decision-maker at the other end of the phone understands that they are NOT a random number on a list, there will be a shift and then an opportunity to earn a longer conversation. Most callers and e-mailers don't get there - they are impatient and they don't understand that someone has to feel that you have value to add in the course of the conversation.
Get this component down within your messaging even BEFORE we talk about compelling points about how you add value with your products and services. If you don't nail down this piece, the value you bring won't get heard. You 'gotta personalize first!
I'd love to see comments from people who have gotten terrible messages or emails sent - don't cut and paste it all, just give a sense of where the vendor or seller went wrong.
On February 21, I'll mail a coffee card anywhere in North America for the best comments to this post. "Best" comments to be determined based on sharing a story of what you don't like about people emailing your business to sell to you, or if you are in sales, how you learned to change up and personalize what you say. Just add value - it will help others too. If we have a tie, we'll have 2 winners. Hey, who else is buying you coffee next week? Take a moment and drop us a comment.
Lori Richardson is recognized as one of the "Top 25 Sales Influencers for 2012" and one of "20 Women to Watch in Sales Lead Management". Lori speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside and outbound sellers in technology and services companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog and the “Sales Ideas In A Minute” newsletter for sales strategies, tactics, and tips in selling.