I’m like a broken record, I know. And, I’m sticking to my guns.
The #1 complaint I hear from salespeople is the struggle they face to get their targeted prospects to respond to them.
And there is a reason for that.
Message matters. Today, more than it ever has. Yours? Same as it ever was?
The struggle doesn’t have to be real. It isn’t HOW you are trying to engage your prospects – email, phone, LinkedIn InMail, your newsletter – it is what you say in your message. If you insist on doing what you’ve always done, the struggle will remain a painful reality for you.
Thousands upon thousands of emails are flooding inboxes of people you (and other salespeople) are approaching every day, every week, every month, every quarter, every year.
Same problem with phone calls.
I don’t have an exact stat, but on average I receive 10-15 unsolicited phone calls per week and about the same number of emails from salespeople each day, which tells me that decision makers in companies a lot larger than mine are hit up hundreds of times each week by strangers with something to sell.
And sellers wonder why no one picks up the phone or responds to even one of their voicemails or emails.
But they might… if…
You made the message about them.
Personalization is NOT saying something nice and then rolling into the same old tired sales pitch.
Here are my personalization tips:
For each industry you serve, determine 1-3 main challenges that industry is facing.
For each company inside that industry you are targeting, what are 1-3 trends you see on the horizon that the targeted decision makers in that company either need to know but don’t, OR that they may be worried about and don’t know what to do next.
For each decision-making role you are targeting; i.e. Director or VP of Sales. Inn addition to the company challenges that may impact them, what are they most concerned about? Perhaps lack of qualified leads in the pipeline, decreases in software license renewal rates and how to make sure their reps are skilled at cross selling and upselling other solutions in their product line.
Review their LinkedIn profile, their company website and search out any intelligence you can use using tools like InsideView to gain deeper insights into the person or the company. Your message should make clear you know something about them and what they care about.
Then write your message. Create a template that uses the body of the brief main point (challenge, trend) and you can quickly personalize with a sentence on the front and back end. That’s personalization at scale.
Here is an example of a sales message fail that I see all the time.
For context, this sample salesperson has contacted the Sales VP before. The VP was at a different company then, and he referred the rep to someone else. Though referred by the Sales VP, the other individual wasn’t having any of it, and kept shutting down the reps attempts to present a competitive sales enablement solution that could save the targeted company money. This rep is trying to re-engage with the Sales VP now that he is somewhere new.
I’m using this example, because it is very common for people to confuse what personalization means. LinkedIn is famous for prompting us with reminders of work anniversaries, birthdays, promotions or job changes. The idea is that you can use this as a conversation starter.
Not a bad idea except that the messages usually go like this…
“Hi, Conner. Congrats on your new position of Sales VP at XYZ company. I saw a comment you made in XYZ LinkedIn Group about your team’s outbound prospecting activities not converting to enough sales calls. That’s a challenge a lot of executives in your position are facing.
Conner, your group comment reminded me that we were never able to schedule a meeting while you were at your prior company. I would like to walk you through a demo of our latest sales enablement technology, which includes things like blah, blah, blah. I know we can solve you prospecting challenges. Let’s set up a 30-minute discovery call and demo. Here is a link to my calendar.”
What’s wrong with this message, you say?
The message is well intended and starts off on a great note. With an additional tweak, which I will show you in a minute, the message should have ended with that first paragraph.
In the early stages of your outbound outreach, you must ditch the pitch!
This message goes off the rails the moment the rep rolls into the sales pitch. This wasn’t the time to pitch the service and ask for another meeting. It makes the “congratulations” sound disingenuous.
This approach also ignores the importance of timing. What is the real goal here? Isn’t it to get the decision maker to re-engage in a conversation?
If the message looked like this one, it would be more effective.
“Hi, Conner. I saw LinkedIn’s notice about your new role as VP of Sales at XYZ Company. We are both members of XYZ LinkedIn Sales Group, and a comment you made in a group discussion thread makes clear you are excited to step into this new phase of your career. While we never had the opportunity to meet while you were at your previous company, Conner, LinkedIn’s notification gave me a good excuse to say hello and congratulate you on your new position.”
Do you see anything in this message that pitches a product or service? No, you don’t!
As I often say in my Master Classes on messaging and prospecting approaches, I cannot guarantee that Conner would respond to the second message, though I firmly believe he would. I can guarantee that I probably would not hear a peep from him if I used the first message to try and re-engage him.
I cannot stress strongly enough the following:
Consider your end goal with your prospecting messages. Timing makes all the difference.
Personalize with relevance. Don’t pretend to personalize with something like “Hey, Barb, I like your podcast.” and then roll into your pitch. Tell me what episode or topic you liked and why. That tells me you listened to an interview. Anyone can look at my profile and see I host a podcast or wrote a book or have a blog (as if that’s some big revelation but reps do it all the time… I looked at your blog, good stuff. Can we meet so I can learn more about what you do? Here’s a link to my calendar.).
Personalize like a real person. If you want to congratulate someone on a promotion, work anniversary, Happy Birthday (Yes, I’ve received sales pitches in a birthday message. Tacky!) stay focused on that, as I did in the example above! Otherwise, people see right through what you are trying to do. The same applies to those lame holiday greetings – a topic for another day.
Ditch the pitch. Your initial goal is to GET A MEETING. A pitch turns people off. Flip your script and show your prospect that agreeing to spend time with you is not a waste of their time.
I’ll close by saying once again until it sinks in – message matters.
Step back and think about what your message says about you. Are you creating value and a reason for your prospect to say YES to meeting with you? OR, do you simply make it easy for them to hit delete?
As Jimmy Malone, the gruff old Irish beat cop who mentored Eliot Ness in The Untouchables would say… here endeth the lesson!