Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Making a Good First Impression

In sales, you usually don't get a second chance to make a first impression.  And I'm talking specifically about the first time you attempt to connect with one of your prosects.

As a sales professional, I want to send good karma into the world by responding to all of the emails and calls I receive from sales people.  I mean, isn't it hypocritical for me to get angry when prospects do not call or email me back if I'm not responding to sales reps that are contacting me?

Well, not exactly.  I have to tell you, 90% of the time I'm contacted by a sales rep, I do not respond.  And, it's not because I don't want to.  I really, really do.  

But I just can't.  Why?  Because it's obvious that the person reaching out to me spent exactly zero minutes getting to know anything about me or my business.  Instead, it's almost always a boiler plate message that could have been used for any person or company.  This is another example of how "one size fits all" fits no one.

Maybe it's just me (but I highly doubt it)- I will NEVER open an email that has been sent through an email marketing system such as Constant Contact if it is the first email I have ever received from that person or company.  In fact, I almost always hit "unsubscribe".

Effective prospecting takes time, and in order to catch your prospects' eyes, you need to stand out.  And the best part is, it's actually really simple to do just that. All it takes is some basic researching skills.

Tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator are incredibly powerful platforms that enable you to leverage critical information.  If you don't want to pay for subscription-based information, however, there are plenty of free sources to use, such as your prospects' website, 10K reports (if they are a public company), Google News, etc.

Your message to your prospect should include three simple attributes.
  1. Why the heck did I specifically choose to call or email you?
  2. Why am I doing so now?
  3. A simple call to action
Too many sales professionals believe they need to sell their product or service over the phone in 60 seconds or less.  While this might work from time to time for simple transactions, this approach is completely counter-productive in a B2B selling environment.

I sell solutions to PR professionals, so my message may look something like this:

Hi X,

I see you were recently promoted in March to Senior Manager of Corporate Communications at (enter company name); congratulations on the new position.

I'm sure you have some experience with (my company) from your days at (their previous company), however, we're providing value to great consumer brands like yours in entirely new ways.  In addition to (capabilities A, B, and C), many of our clients leverage (Capabilities D and E) to maximize its contributions to key business goals and objectives.

Would you like to set up a quick call to discuss your needs in your new role, and see if (my company) has any tools to offer value to your team?

Thank you,

There are many arguments on how you should position your company and its value, but I have found that as long as the above three steps are followed, and your message is kept shorter (vs. longer), success will follow.

Unfortunately, there are still many sales managers that heavily (and in my opinion, incorrectly) focus on the total number of initial attempts a sales rep makes in a day.  I remember speaking with a sales manager at a company with a complex sales cycle that said he requires his sales reps to make 60-70 calls per day.  In most situations, a number like this is simply not feasible if you're reaching out to prospects in an effective manner by using quality messaging.

I find 20-25 high quality prospect attempts per day is certainly doable.  Here's hoping your sales manager focuses on the most important sales KPI's like conversion rates, average sales price, and initial conversations.