This post is a bit off our normal topic, but still related. As we build up our profile at Bizyhood, we have started to get more “Inbound” requests from people looking to sell or offer us products and services. In general, I don’t mind this, as I’m always looking to learn new things and find out what the latest offerings are and how they could potentially help us. But I’ve noticed some serious sales faux pas which makes me immediately delete emails and not return calls. For small businesses and publishers looking to hire sales teams to help them sell, I thought this feedback would be valuable, since effective prospecting is crucial to sales success:
- Don’t email contact@ or info@ looking to have a personal conversation. There are plenty of tools to get the actual email address of people so you can address them directly (my favorites are LinkedIn and https://www.voilanorbert.com). Anything else makes you seem lazy and impersonal. I also love when people add the postscript “Are you not the right person? Please forward this to the person who is.” Could you be any more lazy? Do I get a cut of your commission? Come on.
- Don’t send a full sales pitch to somebody after they’ve connected with you on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook. Ask permission to give your sales pitch. Nothing turns off somebody more than accepting a connection request and then the very first thing you do is bombard them with a sales pitch.
- We’re not friends and I don’t know you! Are you still prospecting the old fashioned way and cold calling? I know the conventional wisdom is that you only have a few seconds to get someone’s attention and you shouldn’t leave a long voicemail. I agree with that. At the same time, this is practically guaranteed to never get a return call – “Hey Scott, this is Joe. Please call me back on 732-555-1212”. I get it – you’re trying to sound casual and that we’re already friends. But here’s the thing. We’re not friends. I don’t know you, and it’s likely I didn’t answer your call because you aren’t in my contacts list and I don’t pick up numbers I don’t know. You’re a stranger, and you want something specific – so be specific. Short, sweet and specific.
- Follow up is key. How often do you follow up? Do you send that one email (or phone call) and then stop? BIG mistake. Studies repeatedly show that most people don’t respond (or even see) the first 2-3 interactions with a stranger – and in some cases it can be as many as 5 touches before somebody will respond. Personally, I always schedule five unique touches with somebody I want to reach, spaced out 2-4 days apart. If you’re doing any less than this, you are significantly reducing your chances of reaching your prospect.
- When calling someone, have a plan. If you call somebody and somehow they actually answer, what do you do? Do you dive into your sales pitch? Many people do, and it’s a mistake. Chances are very good that the person who answered your call thought you were somebody else or was expecting a call at that time and didn’t bother to check Caller-ID. Once they realize it’s you, they will do everything they can to end the call as soon as possible. A more effective approach is to say something like “I’m sure I caught you at a busy time, when do you have 15 minutes this week to go over your XYZ strategy and how my company may be able to improve your results?” First, show deference to their time and that may soften them up a bit. More importantly, don’t ask a question they can say “No” to but a more open ended question – and that improves the likelihood of an engaged response.
Good salesmanship and effective prospecting requires effort, planning and patience.
Show respect and understanding of the person you are reaching out to, and you may be surprised how much of that you get back in return.